Coping Skills for Addiction Recovery

Recovering from addiction is not easy. Even people who go through an intensive rehabilitation or treatment program can still fall back into the trap of drug use and relapse. In fact, 40-60% of individuals who go through a recovery program will enter replace and find themselves in the early stages of addiction once more.

In order to stay clean, knowing the triggers of addiction and learning coping mechanisms to avoid relapse are key.

Coping Skills for Addiction Recovery

Keep a Journal and Gratitude List

Keeping track of thoughts and feelings on paper can help recovering addicts deal with them in a safe and effective way that do not involve drug or substance use. Negative thoughts and feelings can trigger drug cravings and being aware of these feelings before they become consuming is a healthy way to learn how to cope without substances. Gratitude lists can help individuals stay positive and focus on the good things in their life that may be altered if drugs are reintroduced.

Attend Meetings

Attending support groups and meetings can provide a safe place to discuss triggers and feelings with people who have experienced similar things. Through peer discussing, accountability, encouragement, and access to other coping mechanisms are taught. These meetings can be a good place to meet other new, sober friends.

Help Other Addicts

It is a known fact that helping others can positively impact recovering addicts. It will make them feel good about themselves and give them a purpose, something many addicts feel left without. Feeling positive about an experience is the first step to avoid relapse. By helping others, individuals are able to develop a larger and stronger network of people who can help during recovery.

Avoid Negative Situations

Clean living is all about building a new, healthy life. This means avoiding situations that may encourage relapse or substance use – including hanging out with friends who may use drugs. It could trigger substance use. Within recovery programs there is an acronym – H.A.L.T. – that builds awareness of the common mindsets that lead to substance abuse or first steps of relapse. It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired – feelings that can aggravate an individual into using drugs to reduce those feelings.


Exercise releases naturally-occurring “feel good” hormones called endorphins that help people stay healthy and happy. Good health is an important aspect of addiction recovery treatment programs.

Meditation & Relaxation

Meditation and relaxation techniques are proven to have a positive effect on the mind and body. Meditation, when practiced regularly, can reduce painful memories and feelings that often fuel substance relapse. Learning skills to relax one’s mind is a crucial part of maintaining a clean lifestyle. These are techniques and coping skills that can be done anywhere.

Practice Honesty

A large part of addiction is lying. Lying to oneself, family members, and friends creates a dangerous cycle because the more individuals lie about recovery and addiction, the more they may need the use of drugs or substances to escape and cope. Being honest to oneself and others and allowing the ability to be fully immersed into a recovery program is the key to success.

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