Healthy Ways to Prevent Relapse in the Recovery Journey

Relapse can occur following treatment and beyond. Depending upon the severity of the relapse, alumni might need to consider going back to a facility or getting additional support before things get much worse. In some instances, relapse can be recognized immediately, and we can get back on track quickly if we are honest with ourselves. As Fire Mountain’s Aaron Huey explains, relapse can occur in several ways.

Relapse does not always mean that we have hit “rock bottom” again. The first signs can be as subtle as hiding symptoms of recurrent depression from a therapist or making an excuse to skip a support group meeting. Alumni can take appropriate measures and adopt new coping skills to continue on their recovery journey. Other times, we might need someone to “jump in” for us and help. While relapse can be a learning opportunity for alumni, we always want to be taking proactive measures to prevent relapse from occurring.

Lifestyle Changes to Promote Healthy Living

One of the best ways to prevent relapse is to make lifestyle changes that promote healthy living. Many people are aware of the issue with “crash diets” that promise “instant results.” Most of these fad diets or exercise plans are impossible to maintain for a lifetime. Success in recovery is similar. We cannot think of a “crash diet of treatment” that will “cure” us forever. We have to adopt a new way of living, which addresses all aspects of our health and is sustainable.

The Value of Realistic Expectations

During treatment, alumni likely worked on an aftercare plan, including a behavioral contract to maintain their recovery after leaving Fire Mountain. Creating a behavioral contract helps give alumni the skills necessary to plan healthy ways of living while keeping themselves accountable. Being realistic in our expectations about life after treatment can help us prevent relapse. If we are overly confident in our expectations or “setting the bar too high,” we can set ourselves up for failure.

What Are You Willing to Do to Maintain Your Recovery?

There are many choices that will help us continue to maintain skills following treatment. We can integrate several areas into our aftercare planning. When deciding what steps we will take towards living a healthy lifestyle, we can consider healthy practices in mental, physical, social, and spiritual health domains.

Mental Health

  • Are we planning to continue mental health treatment following a residential stay? 
  • Consider any underlying issues that may have been exposed during treatment, like:
    • History of trauma
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
  • If we had been using maladaptive coping skills, like drinking or drug use, to “self-medicate” these issues, we should continue therapy to resolve them.
  • Meditation, mindfulness, journaling, and other stress-reduction techniques can help us cope with the stressors of everyday life.

Physical Health

  • Taking care of our physical health is critical to maintaining recovery.
  • We do not need to become all-star athletes or spend all of our free time in the gym to maintain physical health!
  • We can be sure to:
    • Establish a healthy sleep cycle
    • Eat nutritious foods
    • Get some form of exercise each day, like going for walks, stretching, yoga, etc.
  • Joining a sports league or taking fitness classes can also help with the next domain, social health.

Social Health

Spiritual Health

  • Spiritual health is a focus on something bigger than ourselves. 
  • Sometimes, spiritual health can encompass other domains, for example:
    • Getting out in nature can help a person feel connected to something beyond themselves. Hiking can be a great way to connect with spiritual health while getting exercise!
    • Volunteering can help us serve those less fortunate than ourselves while also providing a chance to meet new people.
    • Mindfulness activities can be great for our mental health while also keeping us from letting our problems appear grander than they are.

By finding one or more activities within each of these domains, we can take healthy steps to maintain our recovery and prevent relapse. Some of these areas cross one another, and we can simplify things for ourselves to build a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. By keeping our expectations realistic and finding healthy activities that we are willing to commit to, we can help to prevent relapse during recovery.

We can commit to healthy ways of living following treatment to prevent relapse. By focusing on finding healthy activities that address our mental, physical, social, and spiritual health, we can successfully integrate healthy lifestyle choices into our recovery. By setting realistic expectations and being honest with ourselves about what we are and are not willing to do, we can set ourselves up for success. While relapse is common, if we take the appropriate measures to prevent relapse, we can continue our recovery journey without hitting “rock bottom” again. Proactive strategies offer us the best chance for continuing on a healthy, fulfilling path. If you are struggling to maintain your recovery or want to share your successes, Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here for you. We remind all alumni that you are always a member of our tribe. For more information or to reconnect with our staff, call us at (303) 443-3343.

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