Coping Tactics when Recovering from Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Coping Tactics when Recovering from Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Handling recovery like a pro.

When dealing with substance abuse or alcohol addiction, it is important to remember that coping tactics aren’t always what they seem. Some are beneficial and will actively aid your recovery from drug abuse. Some will feel helpful, but won’t be. Some will ultimately leave you worse off than you were to begin with.

When you check yourself into rehab, go to your doctor regarding your addictions, or otherwise seek to get yourself help for alcohol misuse – the last thing you want is to encounter setbacks. For this purpose, we put together this guide into navigating the hazardous world of coping tactics.

Coping Tactics and Recovery


Drug and alcohol recovery needs as clear a path as possible to success. With this in mind, we have put together some healthy coping tactics, and some unhealthy coping tactics, all with the aim of helping you come off drugs.

In general, coping tactics are either helpful in one of two ways. They can benefit you physically, and they can benefit you emotionally. Unhealthy coping tactics can see us fall back into the habits we are seeking to avoid. We will talk about how you can get rid of unhealthy coping tactics for addiction, a little later on. If you are interested, you can read the scientific study into the links between coping strategies and treatment outcomes, here.

First let’s examine a few healthy coping tactics and look at what makes them positive.

Healthy Coping Tactics


A healthy coping tactic is something you can do to help assuage the symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal that has no negative effects. This means that any range of exercises can be classed as healthy coping mechanisms. In addition, we can count any self-care activities as ways to help ourselves cope.

Some healthy and positive coping tactics for drug addictions include:

  • Walking – going for a brisk walk in nature can help you to stave off cravings. Exercise is a good way to fight addiction because it releases small amounts of happy chemicals (like serotonin and dopamine) into the brain. This is a similar feeling of ‘reward’ to what you might get in the throes of addiction. In this instance, you are replacing the rewarding feeling of getting high, with the rewarding feeling of healthy exercise!
  • Journal – writing about your problems, addiction issues, or even day-to-day struggles is a very helpful coping tactic for addiction. The beauty of this idea is that you can look back over how far you have come whenever you need inspiration to keep going. It is a huge part of learning from your experiences in order to make progress.
  • Turn to your kids or a pet – investing your nervous energy in your family is always a good idea. The positive relationships that you reinforce remind you of the reasons why you are quitting. They give you the drive to keep going. A pet is slightly different. Taking care of a pet reminds you that you are there whole world. It can be a huge benefit to have something to care for, particularly if you are battling addiction or substance abuse alone. A dog will have the double benefit of ensuring you get out of the house at least once a day.
  • Self-care – You may have read about self-care recently and been confused by the idea. Self-care is any relaxing, soothing, rewarding activity that you do to take care of yourself and, in the case of an addict, to stave off the cravings. Self-care activities include everything from going for a long, hot, bath, to looking through old holiday photos and remembering fondly. Be careful though… of all the positive coping tactics self-care is the one most likely to lead you back to bad habits. If your addiction is to alcohol then avoid taking yourself to the pub or for a nice meal as self-care. Do not put yourself in dangerous situations that are likely to trigger your old habits.

Coping Tactics to Avoid

Just as there are healthy coping tactics that can help you get off alcohol or drugs; there are those that risk throwing you back into the viscous cycles of abuse. Here are some unhealthy coping tactics and a little explanation as to why they are bad choices:

  • Alcohol and drugs – whatever you addiction was, do not trade it for another. Alcohol and drugs are two of the worst coping tactics as they have the ability to undo all of the good work you have done so far. Avoid them at all costs.
  • Going to bed – sleeping all the time is tempting because when you are asleep the cravings stop for a while. However, sleeping too much is unhealthy. It slows the metabolism, can trigger depression and is seriously bad for your outlook on life. Get out there and remember the things that are worth living for every time you are tempted to do this.
  • Over indulgence – shopping too much, eating too much, spending too much to make yourself feel better… any activity that makes you feel like you don’t care anymore. If you reach the point of satiation; stop. Don’t go any further. Switch activity as this is a dangerous mind-set. IT may lead to swapping one addiction for another if you keep it up.

Recognising Coping Tactics

Although there are healthy and unhealthy ways of coping with addiction, it can sometimes be difficult for you to tell the difference between the two. In order to place yourself in a position to tell the difference between the two, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Will the activity you want to do place you in danger from triggers? If so, the coping mechanism you are about to try is unhealthy.
  2. Are you able to walk away from the activity? If so, you are probably safe.
  3. Does it help you form bonds, improve your situation, or stay out of trouble? If so, this is a good sign of a healthy coping tactic.

Further advice

Keep an eye on your mental health. Your state of mind plays a large part in how well your recovery is going. You may find that one day going out for lunch doesn’t put you in danger from your alcohol addiction – but until that day it is best to play it safe.

Another key thing to watch out for is avoidance. This is a classic negative coping mechanism that can see you avoiding leaving the house, avoiding your friends and family and even avoiding the issues at hand. If you can avoid admitting an addiction then you don’t need treatment for it… you can see how this is a slippery slope.



Dipesh / 5th November 2019/ Posted in: Latest News


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    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.