Drug Abuse and Dependence - Recovery

Recovery from drug abuse or dependence means finding a way to stay drug-free while changing your attitudes and behaviors. In recovery, you work to restore relationships with your family and friends and with people at your job or school.

To help stay drug-free after treatment, you can find things to do, such as sports or volunteer work. Stay away from friends or family members who use drugs. Learn how to say "no" to alcohol and drugs.


An important part of recovery is being sure you have support. You can:

  • Develop and use social support and support groups. Support comes in many forms. You can find it in seminars and groups led by professionals, in 12-step groups, and in your relationships with family and friends. You can make support groups more helpful by being an active member.
  • Connect with family and friends. They can help you by encouraging positive steps. But you have to be honest about your problems.
  • Take part in recovery group activities. You may have used drugs to make friends or be with a social group. Your counselor or doctor can help you learn skills to make friends without using drugs.
  • Find a sponsor, and work with this person. A sponsor is someone who has been in recovery for a long time and helps you stay drug-free.

Lapse and relapse

Stopping drug use is very hard. It's normal to have setbacks, even years later. Very few people succeed the first time they try. A lapse or relapse is likely.

  • A lapse is the first time you use a drug again after you have quit, or brief episodes of drug use later on.
  • A relapse is not being able to stay drug-free over time. It can occur if you have a series of lapses close together or a lapse that leads to heavier drug use over a longer period. A relapse is most likely to happen a few months after you have quit using drugs.

A lapse or relapse doesn't mean that you or your treatment has failed. It may mean that you just slipped up. You also may need more treatment, another type of treatment, or more time in support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous.

It's smart to plan for a relapse before it happens. Your doctor, family, and friends can help you do this.


A healthy lifestyle

Part of recovery is finding your way back to a healthy lifestyle.

  • Exercise and be active. This may give you something to do instead of thinking about drugs, and it also can help reduce stress.
  • Relieve stress. Stress can trigger a relapse. Stress-relief exercises can help.
  • Get enough sleep to help your mood and to help you feel less stressed.
  • Eat a balanced diet. This helps your body deal with tension and stress. Whole grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and protein are part of a balanced diet.
  • Meditate. It helps you feel calm and can give you a clearer awareness about your life.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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