Addiction Relapse Prevention 101

Addiction relapse does happen. However, there are a few key steps that can be taken to prevent it from happening. Addiction relapse prevention is possible.

There are many factors that contribute to maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol. If you have been in addiction treatment or around 12-Step meetings, then undoubtedly you have heard many of these already. But they bear repeating. In fact, you can't hear them enough.

5 Keys to Preventing Addiction Relapse

Stay away from people, places and things –

Okay, so this is a no-brainer, but I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people announce that they had relapsed due to being around someone who was using. Removing those hazardous people from our lives is no easy feat. At times they may be family or close friends. But in the end if they are a threat to your recovery then there needs to be distance between you and them.

Relapse is a process, not an event –

Chances are if you picked-up then you made that decision sometime prior to the actual using event. Addiction has a way of being very seductive in how it operates. All it takes is the simplest thought of using to get the wheels of addiction turning. Once this begins it takes a concerted effort to reverse the insidious process.

Use your supports –

By having a support system the whole recovery process is made that much easier. But….you have to use it. When I first got clean I quickly surrounded myself with other recovering addicts. Not only did we attend 12-Step meetings together but went to movies, camped out, took road trips and shared time with one another. These relationships have been a major part of my recovery. Without these supports I honestly do not know how I would be able to stay clean.

Express gratitude

As the old saying goes, “Grateful addicts don’t use.” You might be saying, “What do I have to be grateful for?” Well, I will tell you: Think about when you were dope sick or coming to from a bender where you had blacked out. Or how about the time when you got busted and ended up in the holding center overnight? Or whatever the circumstance. So you may not have the best life in the world but you know what? When you are clean things can always get better. And that’s the beauty of recovery. It can always get better.

Don’t pick up no matter what! –

That’s the bottom line. Cravings will pass. Feelings will pass. As long as you take the appropriate steps to manage your disease you can get through anything. In my recovery I have dealt with deaths, job problems, relationship issues, and the list goes on. In other words, by utilizing the tools with which I have been given I have been able to deal with life on life’s terms. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

What are some of your relapse prevention tools?

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2012, July 16). Addiction Relapse Prevention 101, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

Sobriety: Watching Your Friends Relapse - HealthyPlace
March, 24 2017 at 9:47 am

[…] have started drinking does nothing to maintain our sobriety or help our friends. That being said, relapse prevention requires devoted focus and hard work. Here are just two of the warning signs that a friend is […]

Kyczy Hawk
July, 19 2012 at 8:42 am

ABSOLUTELY! I am writing about this today as well (not for a blog but for a small book I hope to release soon). I love the reminder that relapse is a process not an event - it is the small ways that stinkin' thinkin' can creep into one's mind and make the delusional seem normal. NO WAY. I really pay attention to my emotional sobriety as that is the first to slip. Nice straightforward writing. Very helpful.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 19 2012 at 9:53 am

Thanks! Relapse is not a requirement for recovery however it can be the jarring experience that can spur one into right action. I'd love to check out your book once it is complete.

Leave a reply