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Addiction and Alcoholism Relapse Prevention:
Ideas to Help You Maintain your Sobriety

There is no perfect formula for relapse prevention. But there are definitely a number of things you can (and should) be doing that will help prevent you picking up a drink or using drugs again.

Overcoming alcoholism or drug addiction successfully starts with understanding that that there is a lot more to it than simply getting clean. Getting clean via treatment, rehab etc. is only Step One.

Relapse Prevention is ultimately dependent on you approaching the process of recovery seriously - and adopting a lifestyle (essentially new habits) that will make staying drug or alcohol free much more likely. Don’t change your life in any real way – and relapse prevention becomes almost impossible.

So what am I talking about when I talk about the process of recovery, adopting a new lifestyle etc?

The first thing you’ve got to realise is that you can’t be doing all the same things, and hanging out with all the same people as you did before, if you hope to stay clean/sober successfully. The definition of insanity – doing the same things over and over – and expecting different results.

addiction relapse prevention So regularly frequenting your old drinking hangouts and using joints is a no-no. Because those will act as triggers by flooding you with old drinking/using feelings and images – and overpower you with the urge to want to have a drink or start using.

It took me a long time before I was even vaguely comfortable stepping into a bar or club again – and to begin with it was always with someone in the same boat as me, i.e. someone also in recovery.

So you’ve got to be sensible about that – and develop new hobbies and ways to spend your time. I love going to the cinema or staying in and watching DVD's these days - something I could never have imagined doing in my drinking and using days.

Likewise hanging out with your old using and drinking buddies. I’m not talking about your real friends here – those that have supported you and been there for you during your addiction and the process of getting clean – but those you only ever see to drink or take drugs with. You have to let those people out of your life – otherwise you’ll be drinking and using again in no time.

The biggest benefit I believe to participating in a 12-step program like AA or NA is that it allows you to interact with and meet new people, who are going/and have been through what you are.

For the first 2 years of my recovery, I regularly went to meetings and spent most of my time with people I met there and who became friends as a result. Now I know AA or NA might not be for everyone – but I do believe it to be a powerful program, especially in the early periods of your recovery when you’re at your most vulnerable.

I don’t go to meetings anymore, haven’t done for years, but they were crucial in helping me get through those first couple of years when I was most vulnerable. So I would certainly highly recommend you give a 12-step program a chance – until you’re totally confident relapse is not an option for you without it.

A healthy body and mind is also extremely powerful in ensuring relapse prevention. If you feel good physically and mentally, you’ll feel better about yourself and you’ll then far less likely want to go back to a life of drink and drugs.

A common trait amongst most addicts is low self-worth or poor self-esteem. So by investing time in yourself through eating more healthily and becoming more active, you’ll go a long way to achieving that.

There are obviously lots of ways to do that – but do whatever it takes to create a healthy body and clear, strong mind for yourself – and you’ll never look back.

My biggest advice or tip however to prevent relapse prevention is to develop self-awareness and become more conscious of why and how you do things.

The first benefit to developing your self-awareness is that you’ll become more aware of the various triggers that lead you to wanting to drink or use drugs. These could be anything from loneliness, feeling depressed, being hungry, feeling stressed, being tired and feeling anxious etc.

By being aware of the trigger as it happens – you then have the power to choose a different response - so instead of subconsciously and automatically simply turning to alcohol or drugs like you used to – you’ll be able to make a more empowered choice.

The next benefit to developing your self-awareness is that you become more comfortable in your own skin and with who you are. It becomes easier to let go of limiting beliefs you’ve held for years that no doubt played a role in your addiction, your self-worth and confidence improves, and so you feel far more at ease and at peace with yourself and the world.

using meditation to prevent relapse So how do you develop self-awareness? The most powerful method I know is meditation. Now I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of how to meditate here. For a meditation 101, download my book Addiction Uncovered, and you’ll learn how to do it there.

But I honestly know no more powerful transformational method that will improve your quality of life on all levels – from developing awareness and expanding consciousness, to improving your sense of self-worth, developing a spiritual connection (to whomever you choose – I have no religious bias) and basically help you live a far more meaningful life - than meditation.

Meditation is the glue and foundation on which I have built my life. Can you get by and ensure relapse prevention without it? Sure. But why deny yourself the gift of something that can do so much good for you?

Now I know meditation may seem hard or difficult. It doesn't have to be. It’s not about trying to create a blissful state or stop all thoughts, but simply about getting into the daily habit of sitting and doing your meditation, and with time you’ll begin to notice remarkable changes (even without doing it 'perfectly.')

I haven’t even touched here on scientific evidence of the power of meditation in overcoming addiction, and so essentially ensuring relapse prevention. I’m not making this stuff up – meditation is more powerful than you can begin to imagine.

If you like the idea of using a couple of resources that will accelerate and help you in being able to meditate and develop self-awareness more easily, the two most powerful resources/tools I’ve ever come across can be found here and here . Both by the way, were created by experts featured on the movie, ‘The Secret.’

I also suggest you spend time reading everything I’ve written in the Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Section of this website and the Addiction and ALcoholism Self-Help articles I wrote will also be helpful in expanding on what I’ve written here.

Having a dedicated Coach or Mentor can be another extremely powerful way to help you stay on the recovery road and ensure relapse prevention. For more info on that - check out the Addiction Counseling and Recovery Coaching section.

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