Reducing relapse rates is an important aim of treatment and support services. Relapse happens, but it doesn’t need to happen. It’s often a part of a recovery journey, but it doesn’t need to be. Why go there when there are ways to reduce the risk? Here are five things that research tells us can reduce the risk of relapse.
- Find a sober person and don’t let go of them until they agree to be your friend. Research from Connecticut found that just by adding one sober person to your social network, relapse rates were reduced by 27% for the next year. Your sober friends keep you sober.
- Get to mutual aid. (This is where you’ll find your sober buddies.) Study after study shows positive associations between getting to meetings and reducing relapse rates. And once you have got to mutual aid, get involved in mutual aid. Studies show that just turning up at meetings helps, but you’ll protect yourself much more by becoming involved. Get a group you identify as a home group and do some work for the group.
- Find a sponsor. Several studies have shown reduced relapse in association with getting a sponsor. This is one for 12-step groups rather than SMART Recovery groups.
- Find meaningful and structured things to do. A study of people in long term recovery found that having regular activities that meant something to them helped them from going back to using and drinking.
- Find new ways to manage stress. Talk about what’s going on for you. Take your issues to recovering friends and find out how they deal with similar problems. Take regular exercise. Learn mindfulness techniques or use SMART Recovery tools to deal with challenges. Keep a reflective diary, journal or written 10th step.
Keep calm! Don’t relapse! Recover instead.