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The Ultimate Guide to Preventing Relapse

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The percentage of patients with substance abuse disorders who relapse after treatment falls between 40 to 60%. Even after successful treatment, you might face new challenges as you reenter the world sober. Instead of risking your sobriety, it helps to develop a plan for staying sober.

Here are a few tips you can use for preventing relapse. With these tips, you can attain long-term sobriety without additional stress. 

Learning how to avoid substance abuse relapse can benefit your relationships, career, and health. 

Read on to discover how to stay on track with your sobriety journey today. 

Develop an Aftercare Plan

Before leaving your rehabilitation center, talk to your sobriety team about developing your aftercare plan. Your case manager or counselor can help you plan for your life outside of the treatment facility.

Developing and sticking to your aftercare plan is essential to preventing relapse.

Your aftercare plan might include:

  • Sober living
  • Working out
  • Eating healthy
  • One-on-one therapy
  • Group therapy
  • A 12-step program
  • An outpatient program

Talk to your case manager about your specific concerns as well. They can help you make sure you’ve gathered the resources you need to maintain your sobriety. 


Take the time to recognize your internal and external triggers, too. These triggers could make you feel the need to drink or use drugs, increasing your risk of a substance abuse relapse. Triggers can vary between individuals.

However, a few common triggers include:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Loneliness
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Relationship issues
  • Physical settings
  • Certain sights and smells
  • Anger
  • Peer pressure
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Understanding your unique triggers could help you avoid or minimize your exposure to these triggers. 

Make sure you understand the stages involved with substance abuse relapse, too. Understanding the process could help you recognize when you need help.

The initial state involves an emotional relapse. During this stage, you’re likely neglecting self-care. You might begin isolating yourself, neglecting your sleep and nutrition, or bottling up your emotions.

During the mental relapse phase, you might develop cravings for drugs and alcohol. You might feel nostalgic over people, places, or things associated with previous substance abuse. You might also begin lying to yourself about the potential consequences of relapsing.

The final stage is physical relapse. During this stage, you’ll begin using drugs or drinking alcohol.

The physical stage can eventually escalate to an uncontrollable level.

Make sure to seek help before the emotional stage progresses into a physical relapse. 

Build a Support Network

You don’t have to follow your sobriety journey alone. Instead, surround yourself with a support network. Your support system can help you stay away from drugs, alcohol, or potential triggers.

They could recognize the signs you’re struggling even before you do. 

Meanwhile, having a support system can ensure you remain accountable for your actions. If you’re feeling alone or struggling, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

You can start building your support system by attending group therapy sessions. Spend time with people in your group outside of therapy sessions, too. If you’re struggling outside of group hours, you’ll always have someone you can call on. 

Visit a Therapist

Remember, you might add individual therapy sessions as part of your aftercare plan. Working one-on-one with a therapist can help you maintain your sobriety. You’ll have a safe place where you can work through challenges that are impacting your life in the present.

An experienced, qualified therapist can help you work through these challenges. You can leverage their experience and expertise to make smarter decisions.

You could also work through challenges or issues from the past you didn’t consider during your initial course of treatment. 

If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to schedule a session with your therapist. 

Attend Meetings

There are over 2 million active Alcoholics Anonymous members worldwide. About 22% of members remain sober for over 20 years. Consider attending AA or NA meetings as a part of your aftercare plan.

Attending 12-step meetings can help you build your support system. You’ll have access to people who understand what you’re going through. They can help you recognize potential roadblocks that might impact your sobriety journey, too.

Learn from their experiences and previous mistakes. Learning from those around you could help you avoid potential pitfalls. 

Discover New Hobbies

Consider picking up new hobbies or reconnecting with old ones. Otherwise, boredom might lead you toward a substance abuse relapse. Developing new skills can benefit your physical and mental health, too.

Otherwise, remaining idle too often might cause a relapse.

You can try new recipes, learn a language, play an instrument, or pick up other hobbies. Find ways to occupy your time that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol.

Work Up a Sweat

You can also occupy your time by developing an exercise routine.

Exercising more often will encourage your brain to release endorphins. At the same time, you can regulate your mood and boost your energy levels.

Try lifting weights, swimming, yoga, jogging, or walking. Discover new sports you haven’t considered playing in the past, too.

Consider asking members of your support team to participate in sporting events with you as well. 

Start Journaling

Journaling is another effective way to prevent relapse. You can work through your moods and process your thoughts. Journaling will also help you assess your goals and develop a plan for accomplishing them. 

Ask for Help

As you work through these tips for staying sober, remember: you’re not alone. 

You can always turn back to your case manager to reassess your aftercare plan. Otherwise, talk to someone in your 12-step program. Don’t forget to let your therapist know if you’re struggling, too.

Asking for help can help you make changes to your sobriety journey as needed to help you avoid relapsing. 

Preventing Relapse: Use These Tips for Staying Sober Today

Staying sober is an ongoing process. Remember, you don’t have to use these tips for preventing relapse alone. Surround yourself with a support system and ask for help as needed. 

With these tips, you can stick to your sobriety journey.

Need help? We’re here for you.

Reach out today to learn more.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689