Young man looking out at the riverWhen it comes to staying sober, a guide for relapse prevention is an essential tool you can always refer to if you’re struggling on the road to recovery. Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is the first step of the journey, not a stand-alone cure.

To maintain sobriety in the long term, you’ll need to commit to lifestyle changes, pursue healthy, constructive habits and practice self-care to stay in the right mindset.

In this guide, we provide essential tips and techniques to help you stay sober after rehab.

Understand the Relapse Process

One of the most important aspects of staying sober is having a clear understanding of how addiction affects the brain. Many addicts become caught up in guilt about feeling powerless in the face of substance abuse, which often leads to a cycle of relapse.

When someone starts the recovery process because they feel ashamed, it doesn’t usually end well. The person gives too much power to the substance of choice, and the motivation of not feeling guilty is rarely enough to remain sober.

The CENAPS Model

The CENAPS model helps you prevent relapse by breaking the process down into six stages: transition, stabilization, early recovery, middle recovery, late recovery and maintenance.  Transition, which involves admitting you’re not in control of staying sober, is the first of the essential insights in the model. Stabilization includes detox and a one-day-at-a-time approach to not drinking or using substances.

Subsequent stages usually take place in therapy, where you learn tools for coping with emotions and make plans for how to deal with difficulties. During middle stage recovery, you learn how to repair the damage addiction has caused to you and your family life. Late recovery is when the addict works with a therapist to determine where unhealthy patterns of behavior stem from and learns to re-parent themselves. Finally, maintenance is the ongoing process of pursuing a sober lifestyle and working consistently to support your goal of relapse prevention,

Staying sober requires you to have a clear understanding of what drives you to abuse substances and be fully aware of the consequences of relapse.  You must also understand that relapse shouldn’t be a source of shame, guilt or anger, because these toxic emotions are triggers for most people.

Know Your Triggers

For an ex-addict, being a trigger avoiding ninja is an essential part of staying sober. Even after you’ve completed a rehab program and remained sober for a year or more, there’s a good chance your triggers won’t just disappear. Whether it’s rejection, anger, frustration, embarrassment, criticism or a specific location or experience, knowing what drives you to use substances is of the highest importance.

While counseling and psychoeducation can help you identify your triggers and find ways to work around them, eliminating them entirely can take years of therapy. What you’ll primarily learn to do during relapse prevention is communicate your feelings honestly and calmly and use healthy coping mechanisms to handle them better.

For example, if you grew up in a household where people argued constantly, conflict might become a trigger in later life. You might fear conflict so much that you perceive the slightest thing as being confrontational and regularly use alcohol to avoid these difficult feelings you seem to experience all the time. As such, alcohol becomes a tool for handling stress, as well as being something you’re physically addicted to.

To overcome this cycle, you need to practice abstinence and get into new habits. Additionally, you must learn to resolve conflict in the moment and find alternative ways of venting, such as exercise, creativity, hobbies or taking a walk in nature.

Develop a Strong Support Network

Family involvement is a major benefit to individuals who are working hard at staying sober. Surrounding yourself with supportive, sober friends and loving family members is the best way to ensure you’re not peer pressured while relapse prevention is a priority.

While during the early stages of trying to stay sober it’s hard to imagine you’ll have any fun without the people you once used substances with, you’ll be in an infinitely better position to pursue the pastimes that bring you long-term fulfillment and a sense of pride.

Make Time for Fun, Joy and Self-Care

You might not know it, but one of the most important aspects of relapse prevention is making time for yourself. In a sense, substance abuse is a form of self-care for many addicts. What they’re trying to do is ease pain and suffering, which is a perfectly reasonable and logical pursuit. However, using substances is a short-term fix that has infinitely more consequences than benefits.

Some ways you can have substance-free fun while staying sober include:

  • Going for a massage or spa treatment
  • Pampering yourself at home
  • Going out to museums and galleries
  • Enjoying activities like zorbing, foot golf or escape rooms
  • Spending time at the theater or cinema
  • Eating at trendy restaurants
  • Going hiking in nature
  • Prioritizing time with a beloved friend or family member

Instill Healthy Habits

When it comes to relapse prevention, the final step in your lifestyle overhaul is to instill healthy habits. This is an ongoing process that begins as soon as you start rehab or detox and requires constant maintenance.

During addiction treatment, you follow a highly structured schedule and learn the most up-to-date information on how to enjoy a healthy, sober lifestyle. Make sure you keep hold of the staying sober workbook you receive at rehab, because the skills and knowledge you learn will serve you for the rest of your life.

Some of the most important habits to maintain while living a sober lifestyle include:

  • Having a consistent sleep schedule and getting enough sleep
  • Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and foods that promote gut and brain health
  • Making time for movement every day
  • Speaking to someone you trust about your feelings
  • Asking for help if you need it
  • Spending time pursuing hobbies that you find rewarding and meaningful

Get Help for Drug Addiction or Alcoholism

If you’ve experienced relapse before, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of getting sober and staying sober. With professional guidance, support and the right knowledge, anyone can overcome addiction and maintain sobriety long term. Call our Fort Myers rehab today at 844-254-9664 to find out more.