Preventing Drug Relapse: What Are the Steps?

Over 20 million people in the United States struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. This disease affects people physically and mentally, and it often continues to affect them long after they’ve sought treatment. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) reports that between 40 and 60 percent of people suffer a relapse after recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction.  

Although relapse seems to affect most individuals fighting for sobriety, it is a preventable experience. With the right treatment, a dedicated support system, and a commitment to abstaining from drugs or alcohol, it is possible to remain sober for the rest of your life. In this article, we will examine some basic steps you can take to help you or someone you love to prevent a drug relapse.

Step 1:Get treatment.

  • First, it is very important that an individual dealing with addiction seeks out treatment from a professional program. Addiction is a complex and chronic condition, and getting sober involves much more than ceasing to use drugs or alcohol. In treatment, clients can safely withdraw from an addictive substance, go to therapy to discover the root causes of their addictions, and dedicate themselves to recovery.
  • There are a variety of treatment options for people who are addicted to drugs. Some facilities use medications (like those discussed in the American Journal of Psychiatry) to reduce cravings for alcohol, opioids, or nicotine. Others focus primarily on uncovering the psychological triggers that push a person toward addiction. To truly start your recovery journey, it is important you find a treatment programs that meets your individual needs.

Are you curious about the rehab process? Check out our What to Expect When You Are in Treatment page to learn more about what a typical stay at Laguna Treatment Center looks like and other details that will help you on your road to recovery.

Step 2: Create an aftercare plan.

After leaving a treatment facility, a person’s sobriety is very fragile and vulnerable. It is important to develop an aftercare plan—an individualized program that helps a person maintain their sobriety as they return to everyday life. There are many facets of aftercare plans available today, including:

Creating an aftercare plan with friends, loved ones, and a psychologist or other treatment professional is a vital part of recovery. A study from the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that individuals who moved into a sober living facility (or halfway house) after leaving treatment had a 68 percent chance of sobriety six months later, a substantial improvement from the 11 percent sobriety rate of individuals who did not have an aftercare plan.

Step 3: Break old habits.

When someone is in recovery, it’s important that they develop new hobbies, keep busy, and sever ties with friends they were getting high or drinking with. This can be very difficult for both the person recovering and their old friends. However, helping to break old habits and create new ones is an important part of preventing relapse.

Relaxing hobbies like reading, yoga, or meditation can be instrumental in relapse prevention. These hobbies distract a person from possible cravings for drugs or alcohol, and they are healthier ways to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression—feelings that can pull a person back into the clutches of their addiction.

Step 4: Build a support system.

When someone first leaves rehab, they may feel a great deal of trepidation. They are stepping out of their comfort zone into a world that could possibly pull them back into the dangerous life they were living before—and without a doctor or therapist to guide them day by day. During this time, it is paramount that a person has a support network of family and friends they can lean on.

An article in Psych Central describes the importance of one’s social circle as they work to overcome addiction. As the article explains, most individuals decide to accept help and get sober because of encouragement and positive involvement from their family and friends. Because of this, family and friends are more influential than they may recognize when it comes to helping a loved one with addiction.

Laguna Treatment Center has a dedicated team of knowledgeable and compassionate professionals to connect you with the right level of addiction treatment and lead you through aftercare planning.

To learn more about our Orange County rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, call us today at . We are available around the clock to answer questions about the rehab admissions process, how to pay for rehab, using insurance to pay for rehab, and more.

The journey of recovery is a long one, and there is no guaranteed “end point.” But if you or someone you care about is struggling, know that there is hope. Through dedication, careful planning, and support, this disease can be treated and doesn’t have to define your life.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

Join the Recovery Community
We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Let us help you get started with the rest of your life! Laguna Treatment Center is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.