Relapse Prevention

We need to demystify addiction recovery. Why do people relapse? What can be done to prevent relapse from occurring, and who is responsible? A reader writes in to find out!

Dear Amma-Lee,

I feel ready to move on with my best foot forwards. How do you keep your day in check? I was wondering if you would share the things you do daily to keep your recovery focus. I know how easy it can be for people to relapse and to get off track.

Thank you,


Dream don't work unless you do

Dear Bob,

I love this question! It is essential for us to break down the labyrinth many get lost in during their recovery journey. Thinking long-term is one of the major issues people face when looking to change a part of their lives they’ve been completely powerless over. How many of us have relapsed in our recovery from addiction and trauma due to telling ourselves: I won’t EVER do this AGAIN????

I refuse to tell you that you have to commit to tackling trauma or addiction for the rest of your life. What do you think of that? How does it feel to have permission to not have to make a decision about the rest of your life, today?

The only moment where we are able to tackle that which is destroying us is this moment right here, right now. We are essentially living One Day at a Time. We have this 24 hours, and that’s where we focus – On Today. What we did yesterday for our recovery will not help us today: a major recovery truth. There is no Recovery Bank that you can withdraw from to help your recovery today. We’re walking along a daily healing pathway – It restarts each day.

There are 5 things I can do each day to ensure I do not relapse in my recovery. It’s the most profitable investment I have ever seen: 24 hours of recovery in exchange for doing 5 simple things. Through the many thousands of people I have met who are healing from addiction and trauma, all over the world, I have never met a person who has relapsed when they have done these 5 things in a day. I call them the 5 fingers that hold me in the hand of God for 24 hours. If I want to turn my will and life over to my Higher Power or God, then there are actions I need to take to do my part. God Helps Those Who Help Themselves. So, let’s get to it!

Hand of God

1. Prayer and Meditation

What does prayer and meditation look like to you? For me, it’s the hands that hold up my day. Something is going to have control of your day, it’s either your trauma and addiction, your dis-ease, or it’s your Higher Power and serenity…You get to decide. You get to take the action. The 3 simplest prayers are: Please, Help and Thank You.

2. Call Your Sponsor or Support Person

You are only as sick as your secrets. If you don’t want the phone to feel too heavy to lift when your ass is on fire, you’re deep if craving, feeling suicidal or about to relapse –> then work your muscles and pick up the phone each day to check-in! If you don’t have a Sponsor, Mentor, or main Support Person, then get one Today. If you don’t know how, then Ask. Your pathway to learning to trust is based on this essential relationship.

3. Go To A Recovery Meeting or Support Group

Through the stories others tell of their past pain and recovery I am reminded of where I’ve been and where I’m going. It is a life giving process of reciprocity. Likewise, my stories of experience, strength and hope allow others to know that they are not alone in their struggle with trauma and addiction. It normalizes and stabilizes your world when you are with people who know where you’ve been and know what you’re going through. Isolation is our enemy. Recovery is based on unity…I encourage you to read through the 12 Steps. Do you see the word “I” anywhere in the 12 Steps? No. That’s because it’s a WE program, WE recover TOGETHER. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

4. Step Work or Therapeutic Work

Put your dis-ease under a magnifying glass. It is through self-evaluation and investigation that the broccoli comes out of your inner refrigerator. I want you to feel refreshed today and freed from the burden of the inner fungus of unresolved pain. That said, I also do not want you to drown under a torrent of turmoil that discourages you. My suggestion is to set a timer for at least 15 minutes, but not longer than an hour to do a daily portion of your Step Work or Therapeutic Work. After that: Go do something nurturing for yourself!

5. Be of Service To Others

Refocusing your attention on how you can help someone who is suffering from the same struggles you are can free you from the bondage of your own thinking. I love the saying: “It is my best thinking that got me into this problem!” You have strength, experience and compassion to share. If you feel helpless or unable to figure out how to be of service to someone else here’s my suggestion for a first step: Call someone from your recovery meeting or support group; Ask them how they are doing; Listen for 10 minutes; Do not give advice nor talk about yourself; Conclude by wishing them a blessed day. That’s it, try it and see how unusual it feels to not get involved in solving other people’s problems, but to simply listen.

Thank you for reaching out to me and sharing your question. I pray that I have been able to help you along your journey.

Warmth and light,


What are your experiences with relapse and powerlessness? What tools do you use to keep the focus on your recovery today?

© Amanda Lee