4 Skills Needed for Relapse Prevention

Whether it is your first time in recovery or not, relapse prevention is likely a dominant consideration in the early days of sobriety. If you have relapsed in the past, you know that addiction recovery requires diligence and commitment. This dedication often includes learning new life skills and putting them into practice each and every day. Experiencing a relapse should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and grow after considering the changes to be made going forward. Relapsing isn’t always a part of recovery, and many people can achieve sobriety and remain sober with the right treatment and resources. However, for those who have relapsed, the following skills are absolutely necessary for creating a strong foundation for sobriety.


Self-care is a popular term these days, and it’s often used to sell people vacations and spa days. While leisure and grooming can indeed be expressions of self-care, the concept expands to every aspect of wellness. Learning self-care in addiction recovery is essential for creating healthy habits, setting boundaries in relationships, and avoiding relapse triggers. Some types of self-care come in the form of daily routines that help you to maintain the health of your body and mind. These might include physical exercise, meditation, and healthy sleep habits. Other forms of self-care include decisions you make in recovery that help you prioritize your sobriety. These may include ending toxic relationships, avoiding triggering places and events, and recognizing when you are becoming dangerously stressed or overwhelmed. For those with co-occurring mental health disorders, self-care may also include seeking professional help. You may need to see a therapist and find the right medication for your symptoms. 


Mindfulness is a concept that stems from ancient spiritual practices. Since then, research has found it to have concrete benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. Many people find they are most able to practice mindfulness through meditation, but that’s not the only way. This practice can also be incorporated into daily chores, morning rituals, and even during conversations. Mindfulness means being entirely present in the moment in a way, allowing you to focus on what you are doing and who you are interacting with. This practice improves your relationships and your ability to enjoy the small things in life. More importantly, it also prevents you from causing yourself unnecessary pain and anxiety by dwelling over the past or worrying about the future. Practicing mindfulness can be an incredibly powerful tool in addiction recovery by helping you to lower stress levels and improve overall wellbeing.

Identifying Triggers

An essential skill in addiction recovery is the ability to identify, avoid, and positively respond to triggers. Triggers can be internal, such as when you become overly stressed, anxious, or angry. At other times, they may be external, such as when you run into an old drinking buddy or are offered your drug of choice. You can be triggered by a person, place, or even a smell. Triggers may cause you to crave drugs or alcohol immediately. Less obviously, they may lead to negative emotions that eventually cause you to consider using substances. The first step in preventing relapse is being truthful with yourself about your triggers and ways to avoid them. This may mean staying away from restaurants with bars, avoiding certain areas of town, or even ending friendships. Triggers may become less potent over time. With the help of addiction experts and mental health providers, you can learn how to respond to the inevitable presence of triggers in a positive way.

Practice Using Foresight

One consequence of addiction is that you become unable to consider the results of your actions in the heat of the moment. During active addiction, you would probably start drinking without regard for the consequences. In recovery, it is vital to develop your foresight to make more logical decisions. This tool can help prevent relapse by allowing you to imagine precisely what using alcohol or drugs might lead to. When you experience a craving, try thinking about what using will do to your progress in recovery. Remember the crushing power of the constant cravings you felt in active addiction. You may also want to think about your loved ones and how using drugs or alcohol would make them feel. Remember also how you will feel once you sober up. With a clear mind in recovery, you can regain your ability to look into the future and make better decisions for yourself and those you love. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, now is the

time to reach out for help. At Burning Tree, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate

professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-

occurring disorders. Through accountability and commitment to the 12 steps, each client will

develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. We specialize in the treatment

of chronic relapsers and believe with the right support you can experience true and permanent

healing. For more information, call us now at 866-287-2877.


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