Skip to content
All posts

5 Easy Steps for Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention can include many skills and lifestyle changes. When the moment comes and relapse is on the table, teens can follow five easy steps for preventing relapse.  


Alcoholism and addiction are diseases of impulsivity among many other things. Teenagers and adolescents who become addicted to drugs and alcohol typically demonstrate impulsive, risk-taking behaviors far beyond what is common for teenagers. Teenagers who live with active addiction don't often pause before making an impulsive decision. Addiction actually interferes with the part of the brain responsible for evaluating consequences and weighing long term negative consequences. In treatment, teens learn to pause before making a rash decision. Sobriety empowers teens to take a moment before making a rash decision. During this moment, teens don't have to do anything else but just pause and not do a thing.  


After pausing, teens need to take a moment to think about the decision they are about to make in regards to relapse. Why are they making this decision? What is the payoff for relapsing? Are they avoiding something, escaping something, or punishing themselves for something? How are they feeling in this moment? Are there feelings which are frightening, uncomfortable, or frustrating? How is recovery going? Are they having a hard time or are they having great success? Any number of things could lead a teen to relapse. Before picking up a drink or drug, it is important for teens to take a look at what has brought them to this point.  

Play the Tape

Playing the tape is a tool teens learn in treatment. Before picking up a drink or drug, teens pause, think about it, then play the tape all the way through and consider the consequences of their potential action. When someone who is addicted is about to pick up their drug of choice, they are not thinking about consequences. All the addicted brain can focus on is the instant gratification of pleasure that the drug of choice will cause. Recovery teaches teens how to look beyond instant gratification to instant consequence. Will they be kicked out of treatment? Will they lose privileges they have worked hard to gain? Will they lose trust from friends and family? Will they be disappointed in themselves? Teens take time to consider the reality of relapse.  

Call a Friend

Realizing the severity of their decision making, it is critical for teens to reach out. Whether they call a sponsor, a mentor, a friend, a therapist, or someone in their support network, teens need to reach out for support from another voice. Hearing the calming, encouraging words of someone else help teens take the next step in relapse prevention.  

Walk Away

Pausing, thinking, playing the tape, or calling a friend are not the hardest parts of relapse prevention for a teen in recovery from addiction- walking away is. Teens have to walk away from the situation they are in and turn their back on the possibility of relapse. Once they do, they walk back towards recovery, saving their lives one more day.  

Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center offers long term residential treatment programs for addiction recovery. Our programs involve the whole family for foundation building, life cleansing change.

Call us today to start living your recovery: 662-598-4214