Achieving sobriety is an incredible accomplishment and a huge step in recovery. Once sobriety is achieved, however, the next step is the maintenance of that sobriety – a task that many recovering individuals find particularly challenging.
While relapse is common, it doesn’t mean you need to resign yourself to it, nor does it mean you should let your motivation drop. By taking simple steps toward alcohol relapse prevention, you’ll find your resilience and determination stronger than ever.
Alcohol relapse prevention strategies
Each person who experiences alcohol addiction has a different story to tell, and therefore will find certain strategies more useful than others. Self-awareness is key when developing relapse prevention tactics, as they can help you specifically address the areas of most concern in your life.
That being said, there are also plenty of general alcohol prevention strategies you can take into consideration and implement in your recovery plan.
Seek continued support post addiction treatment
The time after addiction treatment can be incredibly challenging as it’s the first time you’ve taken what you learned in treatment and applied it to real world scenarios. It’s also the first time you’ve been without the continuous support of the community and treatment team at the facility.
In order to prevent relapse, it’s important to continue treatment, but in different ways. Recovery support groups can provide that like-minded community and give you a chance to speak with peers about your successes and setbacks, goals and experiences post-treatment.
Also, routinely meeting with your counselor will help you maintain accountability, perspective and healthy coping mechanisms as you begin to make recovery your own.
Know your triggers
You won’t be able to avoid every trigger for the rest of your life, but being aware of what they are can put you one step ahead when you do encounter them.
Some common triggers include:
- People who enabled or pressured the addiction
- Locations or environments where the temptation is stronger
- Situations of stress
- Feelings of being out of control or overwhelmed
When triggers do arise, it’s helpful to have a game plan in place. Is there a trusted friend you can call til the temptation passes? Are there certain places or events you should avoid entirely? When you begin to feel the stress, will you go for a walk or simply take some deep breaths?
And if you feel you’re not able to manage or identify triggers as well as you would like, speak with your counselor for additional guidance and strategies.
An acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, these feelings are often the cause of alcohol craving. They’re uncomfortable and sometimes unidentifiable if we don’t take a pause to pinpoint what signals our body and brain are trying to send.
If you feel intense cravings, do a self-inventory and ask if you’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired. You might be able to stave off the craving and prevent relapse simply by taking a nap or eating a satisfying lunch.
Set up your environment for success
Only you know what you need in your environment to help you be most successful in your recovery, but it’s important to take the time to not only identify what that looks like for you, but to begin creating it as soon as possible.
Perhaps this means making your home dry—throwing out any alcohol in the house and asking family, friends or roommates to refrain from drinking in the home. It could mean moving out of your current residence and into one that offers more support, structure and accountability. Or, it could be surrounding yourself with a community that is like-minded, understanding and supportive of your recovery journey.
It’s true that our environments have an impact on who we are as people, so building a healthy environment around you while in alcohol addiction recovery is a must.
Try a mindfulness technique
Intense emotions like anxiety, stress, depression and negative self-talk can quickly lead down the path of relapse. It’s important to get over the obstacle of these thoughts/feelings; this can sound simple in writing, but is actually quite difficult in the moment. One way to ride out the cravings and remain grounded is becoming fully focused on the present moment.
Begin by taking a few deep, centering breaths. Inhale for five seconds, exhale for five seconds. Then:
- Slowly identify five things you can see
- Four things you can feel/touch
- Three sounds you hear
- Two smells you can identify
- One thing you can taste
Finish with one or two more soothing breaths and hopefully you’ll feel more relaxed and the intense stress will have passed.
Take care of yourself
It’s crucial to your success in recovery to look after yourself. This includes eating a balanced diet, daily exercising, crafting a healthy sleep routine and setting aside time for leisure activities. The more you focus on having a healthy lifestyle and staying diligent about limiting the amount of outside stress you allow inside, the easier maintaining recovery will be.
For additional support
If you are looking for support groups, a counselor or outpatient services during this time of recovery, Real Recovery is here to help. Reach out to our offices anytime at 855-363-7325 for more information