Just as detoxification is only one step toward a healthier life, recovery is a lifelong process. Many people slip. Many make mistakes and relapse into old patterns of addiction. That does not have to be your story. You can keep climbing up.

Recovery is arguably the most challenging thing you will do, at least in the beginning. Over time, old habits will ease as they are replaced by healthier ones. You might never be completely free from the disease of alcohol or drug addiction, but you can take steps to prevent a relapse from putting you back at square one. Here are four tips that help.

#1: Learn What Triggers You

Cigarette smokers have well-known triggers, such as a craving for nicotine after a meal. What triggers your addictive behavior? Is it one thing, or many different things working together? If you learn what is at the heart of your triggers, you can work to manage and avoid them, and replace them with better experiences.

In residential care at a treatment center in Florida, it is easier to avoid bad situations. Once you are transitioning back into the community, it is harder to avoid every struggle. For unavoidable triggers, you will need new coping mechanisms.

#2: Learn Positive Coping Mechanisms

To cope means to handle what is in front of you instead of avoiding the struggle. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says it begins with understanding the craving. From there, you have several options.

  • Distract yourself with something different.
  • Talk about the craving.
  • Ride out the craving, focus on it, and experience it without giving in.
  • Think about all of the negative experiences that happen as a result of substance abuse.
  • Talk yourself down or ”self talk”.

If you are faced with a trigger or a severe craving, you need an arsenal of options that help you get through without slipping. Writing can be cathartic. Meditation and deep breathing exercises may also help. One of the healthiest ways to cope is through exercise.

#3: Keep Your Body and Mind Healthy

A healthy mind and body represent a stronger you than the one who lived through the worst of addiction. You need the right fuel and plenty of exercise, which helps keep your moods on an even keel, alleviates stress in a healthy way, and promotes better sleep.

Just be aware that too much of a good thing is also unhealthy. It is not uncommon for people in recovery to trade drug addiction for another: exercise addiction. As unusual as it might sound, there may come a time when all of the energy you once put into using drugs is redirected into exercise. According to Healthline,  filling the drug void with too much exercise can complicate recovery.

#4: Replace Negative Friendships with Positive Ones

It is difficult enough to live in recovery without constant reminders and temptations. Chances are, you have at least some friends whose influence is not exactly positive. Maybe they share your addiction. Or maybe they influenced you to make unhealthy choices in the past. If so, it is time to make new friends.

You might feel guilt after severing a friendship, but you should not. It is better to avoid any situation that puts you at risk, whether it is a physical location or an emotional experience. Try to avoid people or situations that can be emotional triggers.

Recovery is not a goal, but a process. It is a lifetime of making one better choice and then another one until the choices that brought you to addiction are replaced by healthier habits that keep you on the right path. It does not happen in a day. For many addicts, relapse is part of the process, but it does not have to rule your life.

If you or someone you love has an addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is help in the hands of a caring, knowledgeable treatment center in Florida. Learn more about admissions and the many programs available to help you transform your life for the better.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.