From Recovery to Resilience: Eight Keys for Long-Term Sobriety and Relapse Prevention

Whether you have just gotten out of an inpatient rehabilitation center or you have some sobriety under your belt, you know that relapse is a concern. It can be done, but it takes work and dedication. However, the result of authentic sobriety is worth it.

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If you’re trying to stay sober, the thought of relapsing can be terrifying.

Whether you have just gotten out of an inpatient rehabilitation center or you have some sobriety under your belt, you know that relapse is a concern.  Also, it’s common.

Statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that approximately 40-60 percent of people with addiction will relapse at some point in their lives.

It’s easy to look at these statistics and feel defeated, but let’s look at the other side of them. If nearly half of people in recovery will relapse at some point, what about the other half that don’t?

That’s right—while relapse is a part of many people’s stories, it doesn’t have to be. Relapse can absolutely be prevented.

Here, we will discuss eight keys for developing a relapse prevention plan. It can be done, but it takes work and dedication. However, the result of authentic sobriety is worth it.

1. Create and Maintain a Relapse Prevention Plan

If you go to an inpatient treatment addiction center, you will likely create a relapse prevention plan. This plan will specify how you plan to maintain your recovery after you leave the center. However, even if you don’t build a relapse prevention plan at a treatment center, you can create your own anytime.

The goal is to identify and combat specific triggers that may threaten your sobriety. For example, triggers may be people and/or places that remind you of your addiction.

After you identify triggers, you will then create a comprehensive plan with specific actions to take when faced with these triggers. Your plan may include reaching out to your support system, practicing mindfulness techniques, or journaling, for example.

Your relapse prevention plan will likely evolve as you decide what tools work best for you. While your goal is to stay sober, it’s important to treat yourself as a unique individual and decide what works for you and what doesn’t.

2. Stay Connected—To Yourself and Others

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In Johann Hari’s Ted Talk, “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong,” he says that the opposite of addiction is connection, and there is so much truth in these words.

Addiction is isolating. One way to counteract the isolating nature of addiction is to do the opposite: connect with yourself and others, which is essential for sustained sobriety.

Self-connection is a gift in recovery. Before getting sober, you likely had no idea who you were. Through a clear mind and introspection, you begin to know yourself like you never had before. Connecting with yourself through techniques like mindfulness forms the foundation for personal growth and resilience against relapse.

Externally, building connections with others is a lifeline in recovery. These connections offer empathy and encouragement, whether through family, friends, support groups, or therapy. The sense of connection combats feelings of isolation and is ultimately a key to preventing relapse.

3. Create a Structured Routine

Especially in early sobriety, you need to plan a structured routine day by day. Early on, you may need to design your routine in 30-minute increments to keep yourself busy and focused. Some of the benefits of adhering to a routine in recovery include:

  • Stability and predictability
  • Time management
  • Distraction
  • Stress reduction
  • Establishes healthy habits
  • Builds self-discipline
  • Creates a sense of normalcy
  • Improves productivity and focus

Maintaining a structured routine in recovery is a top key for preventing relapse because it allows you to focus on the present and doesn’t give you the time to think about things that may distract you from your goal of staying sober.

4. Combat Stress in Healthy Ways

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It’s no secret that you will face many stressors in recovery. It’s also true that stress, left unattended, can cause a relapse, so it’s important to deal with stress in healthy ways.

Practicing healthy mechanisms takes time and practice, but it’s vital in addiction recovery. Engaging in activities that promote both your physical and mental health can be a powerful deterrent against stress.

Here are some examples to start:

  • Removing yourself from stressful situations
  • Exercising regularly
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Eating healthy meals
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Spending time outside

By combining these activities, you can build resilience against stressful challenges in recovery and achieve long-term sobriety.

5. Engage in Therapy and Counseling

Therapy and counseling have come a long way over the years and can be valuable in addiction recovery and can help prevent relapse. Today, different types of professional therapy can include:

When working with a therapist, you begin learning more about yourself. Professional therapists can help you delve into the underlying causes of addiction and develop healthy coping skills. Additionally, therapists and counselors provide a safe and non-judgmental space to share your feelings and thoughts.

Not only does individual counseling help those in recovery, but group therapy does as well. Within a group therapy session, you can benefit from shared experiences and connection. Therapy and counseling play a pivotal role in providing ongoing support, significantly contributing to the long-term prevention of relapse.

6. Educate Yourself About Addiction

You may have lived out your addiction, so you understand how it affected you. However, ask yourself, what have I learned about addiction? What else do I want to know about addiction? Then, find the answers.

Educating yourself about the science behind addiction can help prevent relapse. For example, research how addiction impacts the brain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides good resources like this one to start with.

Education on addiction gives insight into the physiological and psychological aspects of your condition, but it’s more than that. Addiction education also allows you to help develop realistic expectations for yourself and dispel misconceptions, which reduces the stigma often associated with addiction.

7. Find Out What You Love and Do That

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It’s not uncommon for people to find their passions for life while in addiction recovery. It makes sense—while deep in addiction, you lose your identity. When you get sober, you have to unlearn and relearn everything you thought you knew about life—and yourself.

Most people in early recovery have no idea who they are. They spend time getting to know themselves honestly and realize that they have passions in life. Who would have thought? Least of all, them!

If this sounds like you, then use the time to relapse-proof your recovery by finding out what you love in life and doing that.

Engaging in activities that genuinely resonate with your personal interests can provide a sense of purpose, joy, and accomplishment. Whether it’s pursuing a long-lost hobby or exploring a new interest, channel your energy and focus on the now, and let yourself enjoy your life.

8. Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Milestones

You surely have heard of the one-day-at-a-time mantra. Focusing on just 24 hours at a time is a realistic way to set a sobriety goal. The reason why focusing on one day at a time works is because it makes sobriety feel less overwhelming.

It also encourages milestones. Celebrate each of your milestones, no matter big or small, as it helps reinforce a sense of accomplishment and progress. If you feel like you didn’t do anything but stay sober today, well, then you won. You stayed sober, which is your main goal. 

Setting achievable short-term and long-term goals is necessary for staying motivated in recovery. Just don’t make your recovery goals too “big.” Break down larger goals into manageable steps, and you will see progress right away.

How can Maui Recovery Help?

You may hear things like relapse is a part of recovery. When you hear this, counteract with, “but it doesn’t have to be.” Or maybe you have relapsed more times than you can count and need to start over…again. No matter your situation, there is hope, and Maui Recovery can help.

First, realize that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Our dedicated team of professionals at Maui Recovery is here to provide the support you need for long-lasting recovery.

Reach out to us today to explore what we offer:

Your story of recovery is as unique as you are. We are here to help you create an impactful future. Contact us at Maui Recovery and take the first, most courageous step toward sustained recovery. You are never alone.

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If you’re struggling with an addiction, or know a friend or family member who is, reach out to one of our experts today. We’re here for you.

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