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How to Avoid a Relapse With Alcohol: 7 Steps You Can Take

a person holding their hands up in protest toward empty liquor bottles

Within a 12-month period, fatal overdoses claimed 101,623 lives. Thankfully, about 2.3 million Americans—more than 9% of adults—live in recovery after some form of substance-use disorder. Developing a plan after your alcohol addiction treatment can help you avoid relapsing. 

Here are seven steps you can take to avoid a relapse with alcohol. With these tips, you can maintain long-term sobriety for a better quality of life.

Read on to learn how to stay sober!

1. Identify Triggers and Warning Signs

As part of your recovery from alcohol use disorder, it’s important to identify your potential triggers. Recognizing your potential triggers will help you learn how to avoid them in the future. External triggers can include people, places, cravings, or situations you associate with substance abuse.

Internal triggers include thoughts, feelings, or emotions associated with substance use. 

Common triggers can include:

  • Environmental cues
  • Stress
  • Emotional distress
  • People (namely those still using drugs or alcohol)
  • Job or financial issues
  • Relationship problems

It can also help to identify the warning signs that indicate you’re nearing a relapse. Most relapses involve three phases: emotional, mental, and physical relapsing.

For example, you might return to addictive thinking patterns, causing you to think less rationally. When you think less rationally, you could start behaving less responsibly. You might start seeking situations involving drugs and alcohol.

You could engage in compulsive behaviors, leading to a relapse.

If you begin recognizing these signs a relapse is imminent, remember you’re not alone. Seek help right away to avoid relapsing. Lean on your support system when you need help. 

2. Prepare for PAWS

PAWS stands for post-acute withdrawal syndrome. These withdrawal symptoms can occur after you detox. Most of these symptoms are related to mood, including anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, and sleep problems.

You could experience PAWS from six months to two years after you stop using alcohol or drugs. 

If you recognize you’re experiencing these symptoms, seek help from a medical professional. Consider following a 12-step program and attending meetings for help. 

3. Develop Healthy Habits

Remember, certain triggers could lead you to relapse. With that in mind, try to avoid old routines or unhealthy habits. If you don’t change your circumstances, you might slip back into habits that lead to your addiction.

Instead, consider developing new, healthy habits. 

Try to find a new purpose in life. Otherwise, develop a new skill set or pick up a new hobby. You can avoid an alcohol relapse by giving yourself healthy distractions. 

Otherwise, you could get bored if you don’t remain active. Boredom could lead to eating, binge-watching, and other unhealthy behaviors. Eventually, you might progress to drinking again, too.

Instead, look for ways to make positive changes in your life. Ask the people in your life to help, too. For example, you can go walking as a group, pick up a new sport, or attend concerts together.

As you begin developing these healthy habits, consider establishing goals for yourself, too. Creating goals can help you look ahead instead of allowing yourself to focus on mistakes. After all, completing rehab is a chance for a fresh start.

Developing healthy goals can help you maintain your progress and your sobriety.

4. Build a Support System

Remember, you don’t have to start using these tips or maintaining your sobriety alone. Instead, work to develop a support system after your rehabilitation treatment. 

First, work to repair any relationships your alcohol addiction affected before you sought treatment. Make amends and apologize for your mistakes.

Recognize any relationships that were unhealthy (or even toxic) as well. For example, you might need to avoid drinking buddies who lead you to impulsive behaviors and excessive drinking.

Keep an eye out for anyone who enabled your negative behaviors.

Finding support from new, sober friends by joining a support group can help, too. Spend time with people who understand what you’re going through. You can rely on them to help you maintain your sobriety.

They might recognize the signs you’re getting close to relapsing before you do.

You can also build your support system by visiting a therapist. A mental health professional could help you cope with the challenges that lead to your alcohol addiction. If you’re struggling, they can help you develop new coping skills or thinking patterns.

They can also help you address any mental health conditions that are contributing to your addiction.

5. Exercise and Eat Right

Developing a healthy lifestyle can benefit your recovery. It’s likely prolonged alcohol or drug use took a toll on your mental and physical health. Prioritizing your self-care can strengthen you mentally and physically, which could help you focus on your sobriety.

Consider developing a workout routine. Exercising can boost neurotransmitter production, including serotonin and dopamine. You can try a new workout class with friends or go for walks in the sun for vitamin D.

Make time for recreational activities and new hobbies, too.

Otherwise, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. Sleep gives your body the chance to heal after a long day. It can also help you maintain focus, which could help you fend off triggers.

Learn how to minimize your stress with relaxation techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga.

Don’t forget your diet! Eat regular, well-balanced meals to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. 

6. Attend Meetings

Consider attending 12-step meetings or other recovery support groups on a routine basis. Remember, meeting with people who understand your experiences could help you discover new coping techniques.

Talk to your rehabilitation treatment center. They could direct you to local 12-step meetings and other groups. 

7. Celebrate Milestones

As you begin using these tips, make sure to celebrate your milestones along the way. Maintaining your sobriety will take time and dedication, but it’s worth it.

Celebrating your milestones will help you recognize how far you’ve come. It can also keep you motivated to continue maintaining your healthy lifestyle.

Avoid a Relapse With Alcohol: Set Yourself Up for Success With These Tips

Set yourself up for success. Use these tips to avoid a relapse with alcohol. Using these tips, you can maintain long-term sobriety while finding the help you need.

Remember, you’re not going through this alone. Finding the right resources can make all the difference in maintaining your sobriety.

Contact us to discover your options today.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689