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Opiate Addiction Recovery: The 3 Pillars of a Drug-Free Lifestyle

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Medically reviewed: 01/09/2019
Last updated: 05/13/2019
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Opiate addiction, as with most every form of addiction, has lasting effects on a person’s life outlook, effects that can last well into the recovery process. While the physical discomforts of detox can pose a considerable challenge to stopping drug use, the psychological discomforts that come with abstinence can pose an even greater threat to a person’s recovery efforts.

For these reasons, it’s important to have certain supports in place throughout the opiate addiction recovery process. In effect, recovering from opiate addiction becomes possible once you create the type of lifestyle that supports drug-free living.

The Opiate Addiction Recovery Process

From the outset, the effects of opiate abuse work to strip away a person’s character in terms of his or her life priorities and sense of right and wrong. According to the University of New York at Buffalo, by the time addiction sets in, the drug’s effects have warped the areas of the brain that regulate logic, decision-making and empathy towards self and others. In effect, recovery entails a process of healing and rebuilding a person’s sense of self and purpose. The opiate addiction recovery process happens on a day-by-day basis as a person learns to replace harmful addiction-based thinking and behavior with a drug-free approach to daily living.

The 3 Pillars of a Drug-Free Lifestyle

1. Staying Engaged in the Recovery Process

Opiate Addiction Recovery

Having a strong network of family and friends will help motivate you to stay sober.

In essence, opiate addiction recovery entails creating a lifestyle that’s conducive to drug-free living. As with any type of lifestyle, a drug-free lifestyle requires a certain mindset that doesn’t rely on a drug’s effects to cope with everyday stressors and pressures.

Staying engaged in the recovery process enables a person to develop the type of mindset that supports drug-free living. This may entail attending 12-Step support group meetings on a regular basis as well as attending psychotherapy sessions.

2. A Healthy Support System

The people you surround yourself with in recovery can have a tremendous influence on your progress throughout. A supportive network of family and friends can be a powerful motivator, especially when the urge to use seems most overwhelming.

Likewise, spending time with other like-minded recovering addicts offers an invaluable source of support and guidance when faced with difficult life situations. For someone just starting out in opiate addiction recovery, finding someone to act as a sponsor or mentor along the way adds another supportive element to your day-to-day experience.

3. Relapse Prevention Plan

During the course of a developing addiction, the brain makes associations along the way in terms of the places, people and atmospheres where drug use took place. In recovery, these associations live on and can pop up when you least expect them.

According to the Journal of Addictive Disorders, a relapse prevention plan lists any and all things that may trigger drug-using urges. This plan also includes strategies on how to handle situations that threaten your recovery efforts.


While it can be easy to overlook the psychological aspects of addiction, the potential for relapse lives inside the types of destructive thinking patterns that feed drug-using impulses. These three pillars for a drug-free lifestyle offer starting points for managing drug-using urges on a day-to-day basis.