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The Importance of Self-Care in Long-Term Addiction Recovery

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Reaching out for help with addiction takes a great deal of courage, and many people focus only on the detox process or the therapy required for recovery. However, self-care in addiction recovery is equally important.

During addiction treatment, your care plan will probably include things like group therapy sessions, giving you a chance to relate with others, an essential aspect of self-care. Your program might also incorporate holistic practices such as yoga or meditation, two other important options for your long-term recovery.

What is Self-care?

As the name suggests, self-care is prioritizing what you do to take care of yourself. It includes tending to your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. For some, this might involve dietary changes alongside exercise to compensate for the damage done by addiction. For others, it consists of setting boundaries and establishing healthy connections with others instead of codependent relationships.

What matters most is that you find a self-care routine that offers something reliable to which you can turn in moments of stress so you can avoid triggers and enjoy long-term sobriety without relapse.

Types of Self-Care in Long-Term Recovery

Several types of self-care activities can aid in your long-term recovery.


Mindfulness gives you the power to be aware of your personal needs.

Studies indicate that willpower is like a muscle—we only have a limited amount of it available to use each day. But if we exercise willpower regularly, we can grow the amount we have available each day. You can be mindful of how you spend your willpower so you have as much as possible for the things that matter most.

  • If you go to sleep and wake up at the same time, you don’t have to worry about your bedtime routine, which frees up more willpower for avoiding a late-night, sugary snack
  • If you have the same breakfast every day with a healthy balance of eggs and oats, you free up some of your willpower not to be overly stressed by an issue at work
  • If you put out your clothes every morning and you know what you’re going to wear, you free up some of your willpower during the day to meditate when you are triggered instead of relapsing


Eating and drinking the right things can help boost your immune system, which boosts your mood and gets your cognitive functions back to where they were before addiction. Eating well can be crucial to your physical recovery. For example, alcohol abuse often results in folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B1 deficiency, while other substances can lead to low blood sugar, gastrointestinal disorders, loss of appetite, and organ damage.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is an essential part of long-term recovery. In addiction recovery, you need to prioritize sleep hygiene as part of your self-care routine. Residential treatment programs can allow you to build those habits early with things like:

  • Setting bedtimes
  • Getting up at the same time
  • Winding down before bed with journaling
  • Eating properly
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Sleeping in a quiet, dark place

The habits you develop during treatment are things you can take home and continue to ensure reliable sleep, improved mood, better cognitive function, and increased physical activity and energy throughout the day.

Physical Activity

Self-care means prioritizing your physical well-being by managing psychological and emotional stress. One of the ways you can do that is with physical activity. Physical activity has many benefits, such as:

  • Boosting immune health
  • Increasing sleep quality
  • Reducing negative emotions like depression or anxiety
  • Preventing relapse

While at your treatment center, you might participate in things like nature walks, but your self-care after treatment could extend to activities like:

  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Yoga

Self-care might involve combining several aspects of overall well-being, such as taking a dance class with a trusted sober friend. This combines socialization to alleviate isolation with activities to release boredom, helping you prioritize your mental and physical well-being.

Getting Outdoors

Physical activity is an essential part of long-term recovery. Research indicates that boredom contributes significantly to relapse early in recovery. Boredom can become a trigger, especially if you are new to being sober.

As such, self-care involves learning to distract yourself safely and effectively while participating in physical activities that can prevent triggers or relapse.


An outpatient addiction treatment program can provide individuals with the opportunity to live at home and spend time with supportive family members during recovery. This balance provides clients the opportunity to have a well-rounded life and mend relationships that may have been harmed by addiction.

Overall, self-care in long-term recovery will involve several lifestyle changes. With the right type of addiction treatment program, you can start incorporating those changes into your daily routine until they become a habit, making it easier to continue them when you go back to your daily life.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialists can help you find expert mental health resources and support in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service.

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About the Author: Southern Sky Recovery is an outpatient addiction treatment center in Bluffton, South Carolina, that serves the populations of Hilton Head, Beaufort County, and more. Locally owned by staff in long-term recovery, Southern Sky Recovery offers caring, compassionate treatment through a variety of outpatient programs and evidence-based therapies.

Self-Care in Addiction Recovery at Southern Sky Recovery

The staff at our drug rehab in Hilton Head, SC understands the importance of self-care, which is why we integrate holistic therapy into individualized treatment programs for all clients.

Resources to Recover and Our Sponsor Laurel House Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time for celebrating the outstanding achievements of Blacks and African Americans and their central role in US history. It is also a time to recognize the struggles Black people have faced throughout our nation's history and give tribute to the strength and resilience of generations of Black Americans who have risen above adversity.

Black History Month originated from an idea by Harvard-educated historian Carter G. Woodson, who wrote the Journal of Negro History in 1916 to herald the achievements of overlooked African Americans in US history and culture. In 1926 he led an effort by the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (ASALH) to officially declare the second week of February as "Negro History Week." These dates align with the birthdays of two crucial figures in Black American history: Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809), who signed the Emancipation Proclamation officially ending slavery in the United States, and the Black American abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818), who escaped from slavery to become one of the most influential civil and human rights advocates of the 19th century. In 1976, President Gerald Ford gave official governmental recognition to the observance by declaring February "Black History Month."

Black History Month is an opportunity for all people to reflect on the past, assess the present, and plan for the future ahead. The Black History Month theme of 2024, African Americans and the Arts, explores "the key influence Black people have had in the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression."

Without the contributions of Blacks and African Americans to more than 500 years of US history, culture, entertainment, science, the arts, athletics, industry, politics, and the Armed Forces, we would not be the country we are today.

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The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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