Relapse Prevention

7 Relapse Prevention Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals

One of the most dreaded words in treatment, relapse is the situation patients, friends, and family fear when they or a loved one enters treatment.

7 Relapse Prevention Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

August 19, 2021

The Edge Treatment Center


One of the most talked-about and dreaded words in treatment, relapse is the exact situation patients and their friends and family dread when they or a loved one enters treatment.

Well, relapse isn’t all that. Sobriety isn’t the end of the journey; it’s a condition that needs maintaining; it’s one of the reasons you hear “working the program” so often in the treatment world. Sometimes, relapses are part of the journey. You slip, you get up, you learn from your experience and move forward.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with doing everything you can to make sure relapses don’t happen. Relapses are part of the journey, true, but they’re also preventable; why stumble if you can see trouble coming and avoid it?

Feel Yourself Sliding? Seven Ways To Stop The Slide

Take a moment to HALT: Halt’s another word for “stop,” and this acronym is a reminder to stop and ask yourself if you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely and/or Tired. All these states of being can trigger a relapse … and all of them can be prevented. Stick to a meal schedule, keep that temper in check, hang out with your new friends in rehab and make sure you get plenty of regular sleep. Regularly ask yourself to HALT – it’s all too easy for these negative states to build up and cause real damage.

Know (and avoid!) your relapse triggers: Everybody’s experiences are different, and this is especially true in recovery. Your triggers might be places you used, certain people you knew in the bad old days, or even certain songs and movies.

The specifics don’t matter; if something reminds you of what you were doing before you decided to get sober, avoid it. You’re going to be vulnerable for a while.

Take care of yourself: Self-care is more important than ever in treatment. While this can certainly cover having a spa day or splurging on an expensive haircut, it’s more about being kind to yourself. Falling into a habit of raking through your past and feeling shame over the stuff you did while high doesn’t help anyone … especially you.

Also, as we said in the HALT section, stick to a regular sleep and meal schedule. It works.

Don’t get overconfident: Recovery is hard, and you have every right to celebrate when you reach your sober milestones. However, the urge to celebrate can often turn into the urge to party, which is a huge risk for returning to old habits.

Overconfidence can also trick you into believing you’re further along in your process then you are. It’s great you’ve made your first year sober, but it’s the first year of what we hope will be a long, healthy life. Keep working on your program; the reason you made it a year sober is likely due to your program working.

Sobriety isn’t a race, you’re in this for the long haul.

Memory can be a trap: Raking yourself over the coals for your past isn’t healthy. Looking back on your old crazy days and getting into the habit of viewing them fondly, or as edgy and glamorous is even worse, especially if you forget the people around you who may have gotten hurt.

Also, thinking about past substance use is thinking about substance use, period. Leave the past where it is, focus on being in the present.

Be careful with relationships: It’s easy to meet a romantic partner in treatment; hey, you’ve got at least one thing in common, right? It’s also a mistake,, and one that’s made too often. There’s nothing wrong with finding a friend; in fact, it helps! But romantic relationships come with serious baggage.

Ask yourself this: what are both of you likely to do to yourselves if it goes sour? Give yourself time; try at least a year in your program before you start dating again. Meanwhile, work on that support network.

Get help: There’s a reason recovery is so often group focused – getting through this on your own is pretty much impossible. Sober friends, program buddies, family, treatment professionals … they’re all there to help and keep you on your path.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a large, robust safety network, make use of it. Talk. Let them know how you’re doing, or if you’re struggling with something. This can make the difference between continued sobriety and a setback.

Relapse Prevention Starts with Addiction Treatment

Even if you do relapse, it can just be a temporary setback. An addiction treatment provider won’t just help you get back on your feet, they’ll give you an effective support network you can rely on, along with tools to keep relapses at bay even when times are tough.

Addiction responds well to treatment, especially in a supportive environment. Want to know more about The Edge Treatment Center’s dynamic approach to rehab? Give us a call today!

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