Going through treatment is the first step of living a drug or alcohol-free lifestyle. Unfortunately, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that roughly 40 to 60 percent of individuals who used drugs and sought treatment will relapse on the substance.

Although there is a high chance of relapsing, you or your loved one can help reduce the risk by taking measures to prevent a relapse after addiction treatment programs are complete.

Focus on the Present

Substance abuse can be caused by a variety of factors, including traumatic experiences, mental health disorders and taking a prescription medication for legitimate medical reasons like a surgery or injury. A relapse often occurs when you or your loved one is focusing on the past, suggests Dr. Howard Samuels on the Huffington Post.

Dr. Samuels suggests that living in either the past or the future reduces your willpower and focus in the present. Instead of walking away from the substance, you can easily justify your behavior by assuming that a little bit will not hurt. Unfortunately, a little bit is all it takes to relapse.

Create a Schedule

A schedule is a powerful tool to help you focus on the present and avoid situations that may result in temptations. According to Psych Central, a schedule allows you to create a healthy routine and provides structure to your daily activities.

During treatment, you or your loved one was required to follow a strict schedule. That scheduling allows you to recognize when you are expected to:

  • Complete a particular task
  • When you are eating a meal
  • When you are allowed to relax and rest after a strenuous day
  • When you go to sleep

Remain in Aftercare

Aftercare is often provided as part of a treatment program. It can be as simple as a once-per-week check-in with a therapist or a group therapy session that occurs two or three times per week.

When you stay in an aftercare program or continue to maintain some therapy and treatment, the risk of relapsing is reduced. The reason that continued treatment is helpful is related to the focus on your ability to handle different situations that you may face. You or your loved one will have a strong support network until after transitioning into a normal routine.

Learn more about Aftercare and our program here.

Exercise Regularly

A healthy body is essential for relapse prevention because it has a healthy immune system and the risk of feeling bad enough to reach for the substance that was abused is reduced.

Exercise also helps improve mood and reduces feelings of anxiety, which is useful when a primary reason for substance abuse relates to anxiety disorders or mental health conditions.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Substance abuse can have a negative impact on the overall health of the body. Some substances can also result in vitamin deficiencies due to the substance. A healthy and well-balanced diet can replenish vitamin and mineral levels in the body and improve your immune health so that the temptation to abuse a substance reduces.

Preventing a relapse is a process that requires active participation. A healthy body combined with a clear schedule and a focus on the current situation can make it easier to obtain your goal of a maintaining a drug or alcohol-free lifestyle.

When you add aftercare or continued therapy to the mixture, you or your loved one will have a lower risk of relapsing in the future.


  1. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/addiction-science/relapse/relapse-rates-drug-addiction-are-similar-to-those-other-well-characterized-chronic-ill
  2. http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/18/5-ways-to-avoid-addiction-relapse/
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-howard-samuels/relapse-prevention_b_3326444.html
  4. http://www.hbo.com/addiction/aftercare/48_what_if_a_relapse_happens.html