Why is a Relapse Prevention Plan Important?

A few things to consider for yourself and those in your recovery prevention plan.

  • Confrontation does not work.
  • We are skilled at dealing with confrontation and being backed into a corner.
  • We are harder on ourselves than anyone else.
  • We are familiar with many programs and forms of recovery.
  • We have wanted recovery, have been highly motivated to stay sober, been through counseling, but still chose to drink.

How can someone committed to sobriety and knowledgable about alcoholism return to drinking?

Perspective.  Opportunity is no where and now here.  Our circumstances will constantly change.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes not.  Our perspective and our choices when dealing with these changes is key.  Have your circumstances caused you to forget any of your dreams and aspirations for recovery and life?  If so, you may need to “fake it until you make it”.  Sitting down, jotting down ideas on how you will be living your sober life is essential.

“If you don’t design your own life plan chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”   – Jim Rohn

Those I have known to be successful in recovery have an ability to accept circumstances as they come and simply adapt their mental perspective and attitudes toward life.  We all have internal triggers and when dealing with those there will always be difficulty.  Anger, depression, frustration, excitement, and joy can all be common internal triggers.  We must find a way to distract ourselves, talk it through (alone or with another), challenge yourself to overcome this moment of craving, and use positive self talk to come back to the positive and recovery minded state needed to get through this day.

Abstinence alone is not enough.

If not picking up a drink again was the sole answer, recovery would be 10 times easier.  The harsh reality is alcoholics must learn to cope with life in a non-addictive manner.  Some use many other forms and ways to replace and quench the thirst for alcohol including nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and other sober activities.  These have all been shown to reduce stress hormones and encourage healthy feelings physically and mentally.

Cravings come quickly, but go quickly too.  They usually last a few minutes to hours at most and will peak during the first few minutes before subsiding as the time clicks away.  Cravings are uncomfortable but not unbearable.  They are usually triggered by things you see around you whether that is a place you used to drink at, a familiar face, even a song or a movie that reminds you about using.  They are felt physically and rooted psychologically in our memories.

Do not be discouraged.  Sometimes we have to go minute by minute to get through these difficult times and that is okay.  If you feel that you absolutely can not make it go to a meeting.  If you can not make it to a meeting, pick up the phone.  Grab a book and tell yourself to make it through the next page without drinking.  Now can you make it through the rest of the chapter?  Then read another and another until the feeling disappears.

Who is in your circle?

We have all heard change your playground, change your playmates but what then??  Who are my new playmates?  Where is my new playground?  I have been fortunate to have some of those choices made for me.  I had to change my playground and playmates to adhere to a restraining order.  With that said, it was the best thing for me.  I am in an environment away from my triggers.  Unfortunately my drinking and cravings were fueled by those I love the most – my husband and my children.  While it is painful to be away from them, it is what HAD TO HAPPEN for me to maintain my sobriety.

They say “It takes a village”.  No statement speaks louder to me when forming a relapse prevention plan.  Reach out to recovery supporting friends and family members.  Build your list.  Set up your village.  Talking to someone else that has quit using and is in recovery has been helpful for me along with meetings.  I know several of us in recovery that have lived through times they had to be at a meeting every day, while others needed a meeting every few hours.  Those times are crucial and those relationships formed with other alcoholics are crucial.

If you do not have a group of friends and family that can offer support, introduce yourself to the internet again in a recovery driven way.  There are hundreds of facebook groups with thousands of members who are active all day every day and eager to give and receive support to those in need.


People with an addictive disease experience abnormal reactions not only to the use of the addictive chemical but to NOT using the chemical.

Think about the situations that trigger cravings for you.  Consider the emotions that have triggered cravings for you.  Make a list of distractions/activities that can help you cope with cravings.  I have included a basic list of suggestions.  I have done some of these things and you would never catch me doing others, but it is a start if you don’t know where to begin.  Now, make a second list of people you can talk to about your cravings and those who will join you in sober activities.

I spent so much time in my addiction, convincing myself no one cared and it wasn’t worth reaching out to anyone for help or to spend time with because the answer would be “No”.  Oh how wrong I was.  This is something I had to learn and it is still uncomfortable for me to ask for help now.  But, I have never had anyone refuse to give me a ride somewhere, refuse to take my phone call, or refuse to hang out and join me for a movie, bite to eat, or anything else.  We might have to reschedule for a different time, but in that case I just move down the list to the next name and make the call.

1. Throw a sober dinner party.

2. Rejuvenating Spa Day at home, solo or with friends.

3. Guys Night Out/Girls Night Out

4. Exercise

5. Bubble baths are NOT just for women!

6. Play a game of golf or practice your swing at the driving range.

7. Go for a drive.

8. Meditate

9. Read a book.

10. Go see a movie.

11. Volunteer your time and services.

12. Play basketball.

13. Go swimming.

14. Go for a walk and smile at every person you pass by.

15. Write in your journal.

16. Create a new playlist for yourself or as a gift for someone else.

17. Plant a garden.

18. Organize and clean out your closet and donate at least ten items.

19. Call your parents or grandparents.

20. Meet a friend for lunch and sit outside.

21. Go on a hike

22. Visit a museum.

23. Invite a friend to play tennis with you.

24. Stress relieving coloring books

25. Redecorate a room in your home or office. 

26. Host a sober game night with a group of friends.

27. Plan an adventure day with a friend and take countless random and fun photos of your day.

28. Host a sober karaoke night with a group of your fun and sober friends. 

29. Organize your life. 

30. Have a date night with your love bird.


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