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Getting and Staying Clean: 5 Coping Skills in Recovery


Struggling with addiction can be devastating, but sobriety is definitely possible to achieve. Check these coping skills in recovery and get your life back!

If you recently got clean, then huge congratulations are in order.

Getting clean is the first major step in recovery. And it’s a really tough one.

But recovery doesn’t end once you stop using. It’s a constant process that requires vigilance and commitment.

Once you get back out into the “real” world, it can be hard to resist the urge to use again. 

That’s why coping skills in recovery are so vital. We’ll cover five of those skills here to help you stay clean. 

  1. Know Your High-Risk Situations

In fact, make a list of them. Then go over it with someone who’s been in recovery a while to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

Otherwise, you may not even recognize a high-risk situation until you’re right in the middle of it. 

Avoiding certain people, places, and situations will help you tailor your life in a way so that you’re less tempted to use.

For example, you might have “drinking friends”, “favorite bar”, or “dealer’s neighborhood” as just a few items on your list.   

Remember that recovery isn’t about one big change. You’re going to have to adjust to a lot of little changes.

Once you make that list, keep it with you at all times.

  1. Recognize HALT

Life feels more challenging when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired.

But lessening these four states (known by the acronym HALT) is key in taming cravings and the urge to start using again.

The HALT feelings are often triggers for alcoholics and addicts because they’ve spent years avoiding these feelings with their drug or behavior of choice. 

Regularly eating healthy food and developing better sleep habits are a great place to start. And joining a 12-step or other support group will curb loneliness.

Finally, learn how to relax. Which brings us to our next point.

  1. Learn to Relax

The best rehab treatment centers teach that the first rule of recovery is the need to change the way you relieve tension.

From taking walks to engaging in games, there are many ways to relax.

But one of the most effective ways to relax is through meditation. Because it is more structured than some of the simpler techniques, it works particularly well for those in recovery.

In fact, mindfulness meditation is excellent for calming the mind and bringing one to the present moment.

Speaking of which…

  1. Focus Your Senses 

Another way to achieve mindfulness is to become fully aware of your senses.  Try the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique:

First, acknowledge five things you see around you. Then acknowledge four things you can touch around you. Notice three things you can hear around you, then two thing you can smell. Finally, be aware of one you can taste around you.

Upon completing this exercise, take a long, deep breath. 

Focusing on your senses helps you gain self-awareness and increase mindfulness while overcoming unhealthy thoughts or feelings. 

  1. Have a Support Contact List

It doesn’t get any simpler than this one.

Make a list that includes your sponsor, as well as healthy (not using) family members and friends you can call upon for support should you feel the urge to use again.

Having a safe person to talk to can help you resist the urge, and remind you why you don’t want to go back to those old behaviors. 

Even if you don’t end up calling, just knowing that you have that support system is huge.

Embrace Coping Skills in Recovery

No matter how strange some of the coping skills in recovery might seem, just remember they are paramount to your continued success in recovery.

In no time, they’ll become second habit for you. And you’ll be sharing them with someone else new to the process. 

And for more great articles on living life to the fullest, keep checking back with us.