6 Ways to Guard Against Relapse When Transitioning Back to Living Alone

6 Ways to Guard Against Relapse When Transitioning Back to Living Alone

Returning back to independent living after a season at a rehab center represents a huge risk for relapse

Returning back to independent living after a season at a rehabilitation center represents a huge risk for relapse. The very guardrails that allowed for the beginning of a recovery to take place are being removed. In a very real sense, you are operating in a sober life as though you are a tightrope walker without a net. The risk of relapse is very real, and the emotional stress associated with this challenge can even contribute to a relapse. There is no reason to fear though because with the proper boundaries in place this can be overcome. You can reestablish yourself independently in a sober lifestyle.

Consider a 12-Step Program

Twelve-Step Programs are not for everyone. Some find the lack of an official leader disconcerting or would rather not be involved in an anonymous support group. However, many have found great benefit in such environments. In the context of addiction education, a 12-Step Program is a solid consideration. Everyone at a meeting, with only rare exceptions, is battling an addiction. You will have the opportunity to learn first hand of the struggles that accompany such a rebuilding process. Now, you have to carefully consider whether it makes sense for you to visit if you are not working through an addiction yourself as this could be interpreted as a breach of trust. It is worth considering, nonetheless.

Accountable Friendships

As part of your recovery, it is vital to identify and develop strong friendships with trusted individuals. These people should have the permission and courage to ask you how things are going and follow up with specific questions about your addictive behaviors. Much more than a babysitter to keep you on the up and up, these invaluable friends are the ones you can call when you are battling an urge.

Be Transparent With Your Family

An individual in recovery often finds strength and courage in his family. The family can provide so much support in a variety of ways to a recovering addict. Family can build resilience together and lean into each other in weak moments. Building new memories with your family can help maintain positive momentum. Most importantly, being able to address unmet expectations and hurts will serve as a powerful antidote to shame and regret.

Stay Busy

Building a social life during recovery cannot be underestimated. This social network will provide the strength and encouragement to move forward, to not give up. If an individual is left to his own devices, he may quit when it gets hard. The friendships developed in the context of a social life will keep him from falling back into addiction.

Invest in Learning About Yourself

Take the opportunity to explore new hobbies, try new experiences and expand your experiences. Anything from rock climbing to crocheting could help you find solid footing in this sober lifestyle. However, be careful not to choose activities just for the sake of staying busy unless it’s absolutely necessary. If, for example, you are not interested in learning how to cook French food, signing up for a community based course taught by a gourmet chef will not likely be a useful activity.


Exercise is a great way to guard against relapse and is one that takes several components already discussed and combines them in a specific way. You may develop friendships beginning with a common athletic interest that move into accountable relationships. You could take up a new sport with a family member as a way to exchange bad old memories for new ones. Exercise will keep you busy. Beyond that, if you find some physical exercise that you enjoy, you will have a good time without any addictions.

Even if You Do Relapse, There Is Still Hope

Even if you do carefully apply all the suggestions above in your life as you begin afresh in an independent sober lifestyle, you can still fail. The statistics would say it is almost normal to relapse. As with other chronic illness, the relapse range from 40%–60% for those in recovery from an addiction. These rates do not indicate the number of individuals who subsequently pick themselves back up and begin again on the sober life. Anecdotally, it seems that the distinction between those who are ultimately successful and those who fail to escape an addiction is a matter of resiliency.

There is such a sense of shame and failure when relapse happens. The fear of having to let loved ones know that you have let them down again can be overwhelming. The burden of lies whispered in your mind that you can never escape, that you are not good enough, that you deserve nothing seems too real. The truth is very different though. There is no sense of shame or failure in a relapse, not if you get back up and try again.

You do not have to do this alone, and the risks are much higher if you attempt to do so. The risks and the cost are simply too high. If this is where you find yourself right now, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admissions counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about addiction. They can help you or your loved one find his or her way.