How do I make a recovery plan?

Making a comprehensive recovery plan is crucial for overcoming addiction and maintaining long-term sobriety. A recovery plan provides structure, accountability, and a clear path forward through the recovery process. This article will outline how to create an effective recovery plan in 10 steps.

What is a recovery plan and why is it important?

A recovery plan, also known as a relapse prevention plan, is a detailed guide for achieving and sustaining recovery from addiction. It maps out the strategies, resources and lifestyle changes required to overcome substance abuse and improve mental health and wellbeing.

Having a strong recovery plan in place is important because:

  • It provides clarity and direction through every stage of recovery.
  • It helps identify triggers or high-risk situations and prepare coping strategies in advance.
  • It holds you accountable and motivates you to stick to goals.
  • It ensures recovery remains a top priority amidst life’s distractions.
  • It empowers you to take control of your health and make lasting positive changes.

Studies show that implementing a tailored plan dramatically improves the chances of achieving and maintaining sobriety long-term. It also reduces the risk of relapse by helping you build the skills, network and lifestyle needed for success.

How to make a recovery plan in 10 steps

Follow this 10-step process to create a robust recovery plan:

Step 1: Set recovery goals

First, identify your short-term and long-term recovery goals. Be as specific as possible. For example:

  • Short-term: Safely detox from alcohol within 30 days.
  • Long-term: Achieve 5 years sober living.

Setting clear goals gives direction and motivates you towards positive change.

Step 2: Identify recovery resources

Make a list of the resources that can support your recovery, including:

  • Professional treatment: Detox, inpatient rehab, outpatient counseling, medications, etc.
  • Peer support groups: 12-step meetings, SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, etc.
  • Sober community: Sober living homes, recovery coaches, addiction services, etc.
  • Health and wellness resources: Nutritionists, personal trainers, mindfulness teachers, spas, etc.

Having a strong support network boosts your chances of overcoming addiction for good.

Step 3: Identify triggers

Make a list of the people, places, things, thoughts or feelings that may trigger cravings or relapse. For example:

  • Stressful situations
  • Social events where others are drinking
  • Contact with using friends
  • Driving by the old neighborhood bar
  • Feeling lonely, tired or depressed

Understanding triggers helps you avoid or manage high-risk situations.

Step 4: Develop coping strategies

Outline healthy strategies to deal with cravings, triggers and stress without relying on substances. Useful techniques include:

  • Calling your sponsor or supportive friend
  • Going to a 12-step meeting
  • Exercising, meditating or praying
  • Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques
  • Engaging in a hobby or leisure activity
  • Letting cravings pass without giving in (urge surfing)

Having coping mechanisms in place empowers you to overcome challenges in recovery.

Step 5: Make lifestyle changes

List the lifestyle changes needed to support your recovery, such as:

  • Avoiding people, places and things that trigger substance use
  • Creating a sober social circle
  • Pursuing education or employment opportunities
  • Volunteering or engaging in community groups
  • Developing good self-care habits like proper nutrition, exercise and sleep hygiene
  • Finding purposeful hobbies or activities to fill free time

Making positive lifestyle changes reduces exposure to temptation and promotes health.

Step 6: Commit to a recovery routine

Establish a structured daily routine to maintain recovery momentum, involving activities like:

  • Morning meditation or prayer
  • 12-step meetings or peer support groups
  • Addiction counseling and treatment sessions
  • Work or volunteering commitments
  • Exercise or hobbies
  • Family time
  • Journaling, reading or leisure activities before bed

A consistent routine provides stability and keeps recovery top priority.

Step 7: Set short-term milestones

Define some short-term milestones to track your progress, and reward yourself when achieving them. Milestones may include:

  • Completing detox or intensive treatment
  • 30 days/60 days/90 days sober
  • Exercising daily for 2 weeks
  • Reconnecting with family
  • Securing sober housing

Meeting milestones builds confidence and reinforces sober behaviors.

Step 8: Find an accountability partner

Choose a sponsor, peer mentor or trusted friend to provide accountability by:

  • Speaking regularly to check in
  • Offering social support
  • Guiding you through challenges
  • Helping implement your recovery plan

Accountability from someone in recovery significantly reduces relapse risk.

Step 9: Identify your reasons for change

Make a list of the deeply personal reasons you are motivated to recover from addiction. Reasons may include:

  • Improving your physical and mental health
  • Having better relationships
  • Being a good role model for your kids
  • Succeeding at your career or education
  • Regaining self-respect and autonomy

Referring to your reasons in challenging times re-ignites your recovery dedication.

Step 10: Learn to cope with relapse

Understand that relapse is common in recovery. Prepare by:

  • Identifying your personal signs of relapse
  • Ensuring you can access emergency support services
  • Accepting slip-ups don’t have to derail the recovery process
  • Being accountable to your support network
  • Recommitting immediately to sober living

A proactive relapse prevention strategy reduces the severity if you temporarily lapse.


Creating a detailed recovery plan is essential for overcoming addiction and sticking to lifelong behavior change. The 10 steps above help build a robust plan that provides structure, support and accountability through every stage of recovery.

Implementing a personalized recovery plan leads to:

  • Greater self-awareness of triggers, thinking patterns and lifestyle choices
  • Healthier coping mechanisms when faced with challenges
  • A strong social network and resources to prevent relapse
  • An organized daily routine focused on sobriety
  • Positive lifestyle changes that reinforce recovery

By being proactive and detailed when making your recovery plan, you dramatically increase your chances of achieving stable, long-term sobriety and wellbeing.