Life After Relapse: 5 Healthy Ways to Combat Temptation

The top priority after any phase of relapse is to seek assistance. But if you did relapse, it's not the end of the world.

There are plenty of things you can do to stay on a healthy path to sobriety.

Remove triggers

Were there certain people you used with? Certain places you associate with using? Certain habits you had when you used? Removing these triggers by putting yourself in healthier situations can be a major step toward avoiding temptation.

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"One of the most effective ways to overcome temptation is to remove all risks —people, places, things, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous—by surrounding themselves with people in a healthy state," says clinical psychologist Erin McAdarra. "This social support outside of any clinical setting appears to be the most effective treatment for relapse prevention."

Once all of the triggers are removed, it's important to find other ways of fulfillment that an addiction once provided.

Support groups

Support groups including Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), SMART Recovery, and Refuge Recovery are vital resources for addicts who are currently battling addiction/relapse or are already on the road to recovery. Having the support of others who have gone through the same thing as you can serve as inspiration to conquer your own addictions.

Attending regular meetings creates a new, more positive habit than your addiction once created.

Stress management

Stress can lead to a desire to use or rely on whatever addiction you had as a source of comfort. Managing stress more efficiently and positively will not only kick your habit of wanting to reach out for your "security blanket" but also improve your mental health.

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"Stress and negative emotions are common triggers to addictive behaviors," says Dr. Rae Mazzei, health psychologist at Evolutions Behavioral Health Sciences. "Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness are all useful techniques to manage your moods."


Similar to support groups, routinely speaking to a therapist about your addiction and emotional state can help you lessen the risk for temptation and use. Rather than reaching for a drink or a pill, reach out to your doctor, therapist or counselor if you're feeling the pressure and desire to use again.


Improving your physical and mental wellbeing through physical activities— whether it's sports, running, cycling or working out—can help combat temptation. Focusing energies on constant improvement in these categories will not only make you feel better physically, but also give you something healthier to focus on mentally.

Other hobbies including art, reading/writing, yoga, meditation or learning an instrument can all help stimulate the mind and body.

"Getting active or discovering new sober hobbies can help combat boredom and reduce the risk of relapse," says Laura E. Sovine, LMSW-AP, executive director at Austin Recovery.

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