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10 Coping Skills for Addiction Recovery



When you enter addiction recovery, you will face many challenges that might lead you to relapse. To overcome the urges that you may feel, you need to be well-equipped with resources that can guide you toward maintaining sobriety. This isn’t always easy, but there are methods you can use and communities you can join to find support.


Addiction can often form as a result of coping with outside stressors, but this kind of coping is not considered healthy. It may help you escape reality, but it doesn’t help you solve any underlying problems. When you work towards addiction recovery, you often spend time in individual and group therapy.


One thing you might focus on in therapy is learning healthy coping skills to use when you feel the urge to use substances again. This can help you to stay healthy and positive even when things get hard. To learn more about healthy coping skills for addiction recovery, keep reading!


Why Does Therapy Work?

When you are dealing with addiction, a co-occurring mental health disorder or problem is often influencing your addiction. If you do not treat your other mental health issues, it can be almost impossible to come out successful in drug addiction treatment.


With therapy, especially specific therapy treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you can express your challenges and hardships to an unbiased professional. This takes a weight off your shoulders as there is nothing to be ashamed of when speaking with your therapist about any negative thoughts, negative emotions, or difficult emotions you may experience.


There are also group therapy sessions that you can find that are specifically for people struggling with addiction. These are often integrated into treatment programs as well.


In this kind of environment, you can find others to connect with and know you are not alone in your struggle. Being around people who can empathize with your situation can be uplifting and resourceful.


Therapy will help you to dive deeper into why you experience the world the way you do and how that’s impacted your life choices. Without judgment, you can find the best methods that will help you overcome your addiction and move toward overall health and well-being.


What Are Coping Skills?

A coping skill is a behavioral pattern that you use to allow yourself to adapt easily to certain circumstances. However, there is a difference between unhealthy and healthy coping skills.


Many people use substances to cope with their problems, which while potentially effective, acts as more of an illusion than anything else. Substances may limit the pain and suffering you experience in your life, but it doesn’t fix the problems causing those feelings.


There are many stressors that will come up in our lives, but we have to prepare ourselves to deal with them properly. By trying out and learning which coping mechanisms work for you, you will be better equipped to use them to solve your problems.


Benefits of Using Healthy Coping Skills

Coping skills help you regulate your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors when you experience stress. These skills can help you calm yourself down and think more openly about the situation. You are often more likely to make a clear and helpful decision after practicing your coping skills.


Coping strategies help you to break your addictive cycles. When you face a stressor that would normally lead you to use substances but choose to act on a healthy coping skill instead, you will feel proud of how far you’ve come.


Far too many times does that urge to use win, leading to relapses and more pain. Coping skills allow you a second chance at regulating and making the right decision.


Coping Skills To Try

Everyone will find a handful of coping skills that work specifically for them. Not everything on this list may work for you, and that’s alright!


You know yourself best and know what relaxes you the most. Take the things you enjoy doing and feel peaceful doing into consideration when coming up with a coping skills list.


Coping skills can look anything like doing physical activity, practicing self-care, creating art, or spending time with people who care about you. As long as your coping skill is not harming you, you are on the right track to overcoming addiction and succeeding in your recovery.


1. Knowing Your Triggers

Before you can even start with a coping mechanism, you should know your triggers. There are likely to be certain people, places, smells, sounds, or situations that can trigger the urge to use. To fight back, being aware of what sets you off can help you decide which coping skill to use.


When you are aware of your triggers, you can work towards avoiding them and managing them before they become a problem. You set yourself up for success when you can avoid triggers and stay in a positive mindset. When you cannot avoid the things that trigger you, this is where coping skills come in handy.


2. Taking Time To Respond

You don’t have to react to everything that happens to you immediately. You’re allowed to take some time to think about a situation before responding to it. This allows you to relax and devise a solution that isn’t simply a reaction.


When you rush yourself into making decisions that you aren’t ready for, that’s when you make mistakes. Often, pausing before responding can include deep breathing exercises and body scans so that you are more able to respond in healthy ways.


3. Practicing Meditation

When faced with a stressful situation, you are allowed to take time to find your peace. Meditation allows you to recenter yourself and relax.


Mindfulness and meditation help you work through difficult thoughts and emotions to be more present. When you practice meditation, you can feel your emotions and thoughts without judging yourself in the present moment.


Meditation can help to relax your mind and positively impact your health. When you can quiet your racing mind just through your actions, you realize that you are more than capable of making decisions that positively impact you.


4. Calling a Loved One

If you’re experiencing a trigger and looking for a safe space to decompress, calling a loved one can be really helpful. Especially when they know what you are going through, your support network of loved ones can offer you a shoulder to lean on during your struggles.


Talking to someone that knows how to calm you down and work through problems can be very beneficial. Knowing that you have a support system is essential in the addiction recovery process, and can allow you to then help others.


5. Leaving a Situation

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is leave a situation you’re triggered by. There is no reason to stay in a stressful situation if you don’t need to be! The moment that you feel overwhelmed, you can remove yourself to go calm down. This can help you process your emotions and find a way to find your peace again.


6. Exercising

Exercising is a great way to cope with emotions and feelings you experience during addiction recovery. You should find some form of exercise that you like and feel comfortable doing so that you can actually enjoy the time spent doing it.


Exercise helps to reduce anxiety and feelings of depression due to the endorphins that it releases into your body. Especially when you’re struggling with addiction and are used to using substances to create feelings of happiness and euphoria, exercise can supplement those lost endorphins.


When you exercise, you are actually working to rid the toxins that drugs and alcohol have put into your body. The more that you do, the better you will end up feeling. It might be that exercising becomes your new favorite hobby, whether it’s running, doing yoga, or taking up kickboxing.


7. Making Art

Being creative and exploring your artsy side can be a great stress reliever. Many people stop making art once they exit childhood, but it’s the perfect hobby to pick up when trying to overcome addiction. You can channel your energy and emotions into the art that you create, essentially putting together a scrapbook of your sobriety journey.


Find something that brings you joy — painting, drawing, sculpting, pottery, photography, or whatever else you can think of. There are so many forms of art that you can get into and experiment with, making it great if you are someone who likes to try out different hobbies.


8. Journaling

Journaling is another great way to track your progress and think about your emotions. With journaling, you don’t have to set any rules and can be free to write or sketch whatever you want.


Rather than self-medicating, you can journal daily, keeping a log of what your life looks like each day of your recovery journey, or maybe only journal when you are in distress.


Journaling can be very personal, but it’s also something that you can share with others in their addiction recovery journey. Keeping track of how you go through sobriety and addiction recovery can be really meaningful to look back on years later.


9. Cooking Yourself Your Favorite Meal

Practicing self-love can be a coping skill you add to your list, and it’s pretty easy. Whether you want to take a day to pamper yourself, read your favorite book, or take yourself out on a date, it helps regulate your emotions and give yourself some grace.


One of the best ways to cope when you're struggling with your addiction recovery is to slow down and take time for yourself. Cooking yourself your favorite meal allows you to be present and thoughtful about what you’re putting into your body. You don’t need to be a chef, you just need to be willing to get your kitchen messy!


10. Find a Sober Community

People going through the addiction recovery journey need to be surrounded by people who understand their struggles. When you find a sober community, you don’t have to worry about many of the triggers you face out in the world. Everyone in your community wants you to be the best version of yourself and will help you to meet your sobriety goals.


When you sign-up with Sober Sidekick, you can gain access to a sober community that wants to lift you up, share its own resources and coping skills with you, and support you during hard times.


Download the app on an Android or iPhone today to join this community while gaining access to addiction specialists who can offer you professional advice. You don’t have to go through addiction recovery alone — Sober Sidekick is here to help.



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