Healthy Coping Mechanisms in Alcohol Recovery

Coach reviewed by Kerri J. Reyes, MPH, LCDC on September 14, 2022

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Whether you are currently in addiction recovery or supporting a loved one through their recovery, you know that it can be a challenging process. The stress of daily life, difficult emotions, and any ingrained unhealthy habits can throw roadblocks in the path of your healing.

But the good news is, there are many helpful coping skills in addiction recovery, and effective online coaching supports to help smooth the path of your recovery journey. Always keep in mind, you are not alone!

What Makes a Healthy Coping Mechanism?

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Photo by Shane Aldendorff on Unsplash

What are coping mechanisms? Healthy coping mechanisms are those which help your mind and body to adapt to the difficult situations and emotions in life. Coping mechanisms are a universal need. The ups and downs of life are inevitable. No matter who you are, at some point you will experience stress, disappointment, loss, pain or even trauma.

Why We Need Adaptive Coping Strategies

If your coping mechanisms have been destructive to your health and well-being, that’s a sure sign that changes need to be made. Of course, it is easier said than done. If you have been relying on alcohol to soothe or numb painful emotions, you’ll need to find an alternative way to cope so you can prevent relapse.

In short, it is essential to replace drinking with adaptive coping strategies so you can handle whatever life throws your way.

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Need Help or Have Questions?

Schedule a private call with a Ria Health team member and we can help you get started.

Unlearning Unhealthy Coping Strategies

Most likely, you didn’t learn unhealthy coping strategies overnight, so you need to be patient with yourself when it comes to unlearning them. If drinking has been your go-to solution for dealing with your problems, the best way to unlearn that strategy is to learn about healthier options and put those adaptive coping strategies to use on a regular basis.

Examples of New Coping Strategies

Physical activity

Exercise is good for the body and the mind. Some studies reveal that people who exercise on a regular basis have lower rates of depression due to the mood boosting endorphins which are released during exercise.

Choose something you enjoy and do it several times a week—walking, swimming, bike riding, or crank up the music and dance. (Consult with your physician first, if you have any medical concerns.)


Activities such as yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi are great ways to quiet the mind. The idea is to let any thoughts flow through without judgment, while you focus on gentle movements.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This method allows you to work with a therapist to uncover the negative thought patterns that lead to drinking. Doing so allows you to address those thoughts and replace them with productive ones, giving you the tools to cope with emotions or triggers when they occur.

Connection with others

As human beings, we all need some level of connection, whether you enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend or prefer to be with a larger group. If you struggle with developing new sober friendships consider joining a bookclub, a recovery community, a faith community, or a meetup group.

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Photo by Leon Seierlein on Unsplash

Slow down

When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, breathe deeply for a while; clear your mind and pull your thoughts together. This may prevent you from reacting impulsively and saying or doing something regrettable.


Constant exposure to the negativity and grim news on social media (doom scrolling) and TV can fuel anxiety. Try to limit screen time and replace it with something enjoyable such as watching a good movie or reading a book.

Talk therapy

It can be very healing to talk though your emotions with a therapist, coach, sponsor, or trusted friend. The caring people in your life will offer the support and encouragement you need to stay the course. These conversations can also validate that you are not alone and that struggle is a normal part of living.

Soothe your soul

Take a walk outdoors to soak in the fresh air and sunshine, or enjoy a relaxing cup of tea or hot cocoa. Listen to your favorite music.

Discover a hobby

Dust off that old guitar and actually play it. Or learn to paint, refinish furniture, garden, or cook gourmet meals. Hobbies put you in “a flow” and allow the stress of the day to fade away.


Putting your feelings on paper is another very effective way to release difficult emotions and clarify your thoughts.

Establishing New Habits

It is essential to acknowledge your habits regarding alcohol, so you can break old routines and develop new ones. Self-care is important in general, but particularly during recovery. Taking care of your physical and emotional health will fortify you when triggers arise.

That said, finding new routines in recovery to replace the old can be easier said than done. In a recent post, Ria Health recovery coach Mike Osborne discusses the challenges of learning self-care after giving up alcohol, and some of the strategies he’s seen work for people.

Read More: Learning Self-Care in Recovery: Tips From a Recovery Coach

Finding Support

If you have been struggling with alcohol addiction and want to break the cycle, help is available. By uncovering the underlying causes and deconstructing old habits, you can set the stage to rebuild.

The goal is to replace drinking with coping skills in addiction recovery along with new habits, so that you no longer need alcohol for relief or escape when difficult emotions and situations arise. Remember to be gentle and patient with yourself while developing new coping skills and establishing new habits. Behavior change is a process, not a single event, and requires support before, during, and after for long-term success.

For an innovative way to get the support you need from the comfort of your own home, consider Ria Health. Ria can work with you to set and achieve your individual goals through results-oriented online coaching support. You are not alone on your recovery journey!

Have questions about online alcohol treatment?

or call (800) 504-5360

Written By:
Lisa Keeley
Lisa Keeley is a freelance writer who believes in the uplifting power of words. She especially enjoys writing about health, relationships, employment, and living one’s best life. Lisa has a Master’s in Education and previously worked in vocational and educational services. Her articles can be found on Your Tango, Thrive Global, Heart to Heart, Medium, Muck Rack, and on various professional websites.
Reviewed By:
Evan O'Donnell
Evan O’Donnell is an NYC-based content strategist with four years’ experience writing and editing in the recovery space. He has conducted research in sound, cognition, and community building, has a background in independent music marketing, and continues to work as a composer. Evan is a deep believer in fact-based, empathic communication—within business, arts, academia, or any space where words drive action or change lives.
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