Building Resilience in Recovery

Ioana Cozma
Morgan Blair
Written by Ioana Cozma on 01 November 2023
Medically reviewed by Morgan Blair on 26 January 2024

Resilience is an integral part of recovery, as it allows you to adapt to change, recuperate more quickly from setbacks, and persevere in the face of adversity. This guide explains what resilience is, why it is important, and how to build it effectively.

Building Resilience in Recovery

What is resilience?

Resilience is a mental skill that entails adapting to life’s challenges. Living in an imperfect world means dealing with unexpected adversity, traumatic events, and stressful situations. These scenarios evoke pain, anxiety, grief, anger, and along with other negative emotions.

The instinctive tendency for many may be to bury these emotions or to revolt against them, while others feel paralyzed. None of these scenarios define resilience, which is the ability to move forward, mentally and physically, together with your emotions.

Why is resilience important to recovery?

Resilience is essential to recovery because it helps you heal despite harrowing physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.

In the early stages of addiction treatment, most people deal with pain, fatigue, palpitations, nausea, and other physical symptoms. You may also experience anger, shame, anxiety, or depressive episodes.

Developing resilience helps you deal with these adverse reactions healthily. Without resilience, you might relapse and return to using drugs, alcohol, or certain behaviors as negative coping mechanisms.

Tips for building resilience

Resilience is not innate. Through emotional growth and change you can become mentally stronger without ignoring the adverse events you are dealing with or your feelings about them. Here are some tips to follow:

1. Identify triggers

Knowing your triggers helps you avoid scenarios that elicit them or prepare for events you cannot avoid. Having a plan with specific steps and different crisis solutions eliminates confusion.

Moreover, identifying triggers and building a plan for how to manage them builds determination, self-confidence, assurance, and a sense of control. These feelings are the basis of building resilience in the long term.

2. Set your priorities

Allocating your mental and physical resources to things that do not matter makes you feel powerless. For example, a high workload you don’t know how to manage can feel stressful.

To solve this issue, make daily and weekly to-do lists with your priorities, and you will feel an increased sense of control.

3. Build connections

A solid support system and positive relationships are proven to decrease the chances of relapsing. Additionally, this community gives you empathy, guidance, and reciprocal support, which help you build resilience instead of burying your feelings.

To build your support network make amends to your loved ones, consider a support group, or join a faith-based or spiritual community.

4. Try talk therapy

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, gives you specific tools to navigate difficult situations that may appear on your particular recovery journey. You will learn how to build resilience in a customized way, according to your needs and temperament.

5. Consider pet therapy

Equine therapy has been proven to help people recovering from substance abuse as an alternative to talk therapy. Caring for and interacting with horses decreases stress, develops healthy coping mechanisms, and improves feelings of self-worth. These skills and emotions build the foundation for resilience.

5. Volunteer

Volunteering may develop resilience because it exposes you to other people’s challenges, thus placing your adversity into a new perspective.

Volunteering also fosters your adaptability as you connect to people from various backgrounds. Assisting and supporting others boosts your self-esteem and strengthens your sense of purpose, thus helping you cope better with setbacks.

6. Accept and reframe

Acceptance lets you acknowledge that difficult situations exist independently of your volition, which helps in processing your emotions. Reframing helps you find positive aspects or lessons in adversity, fostering a more optimistic outlook.

Related: 100 Inspiring Recovery Quotes that will help you reframe your hardships and remember your purpose

7. Practice self-care

People deprived of food and sleep deal with stress more poorly. To avoid this scenario, prioritize high-quality sleep and nutrition.

Self-care also entails prioritizing activities that make you fulfilled and happy, such as reading, spending time outdoors, or exercising.

8. Consider meditation

Meditation, specifically mindfulness and prayer, can help anchor you in the present moment, putting stressful situations into perspective. This perspective is useful in building resilience because it promotes emotional regulation and inner strength.

These practices help individuals stay present, reducing anxiety about the future. They encourage self-reflection and a sense of purpose, fostering resilience through better coping with stress, adversity, and uncertainty while maintaining a positive outlook.

How resilience can improve everyday life

Resilience helps you get through stressful events more easily and recover faster. Resilience also significantly enhances everyday life because it fosters emotional stability, reducing the impact of stressors on your mental well-being.

Resilience helps you maintain a more positive outlook, which enhances your relationships and fosters a sense of purpose. Resilience also promotes physical health because it reduces the stress that worsens both acute and chronic conditions.

All those advantages will help you navigate your addiction treatment more effectively and successfully pursue sobriety.


  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2022, July 14). Resilience: Build skills to endure hardship. Mayo Clinic.
  2. Kaviyani, F., Khorrami, M., Heydari, H., & Namvar, M. (2023). Understanding the laps and relapse process: in-depth interviews with individual who use methamphetamine. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 18(1), 41.
  3. Ozbay, F., Johnson, D. C., Dimoulas, E., Morgan, C. A., Charney, D., & Southwick, S. (2007). Social support and resilience to stress: from neurobiology to clinical practice. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa.: Township)), 4(5), 35–40.
  4. Lee, S., Heo, J., & Chun, S. (2022). BENEFITS OF VOLUNTEERING ON RESILIENCE WITH AGING: A CASE STUDY. Innovation in Aging, 6(Suppl 1), 575–576.
  5. Peri, C. (2021, June 7). What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Mind. WebMD.

Activity History - Last updated: 26 January 2024, Published date:


Morgan Blair


Morgan is a mental health counselor who works alongside individuals of all backgrounds struggling with eating disorders. Morgan is freelance mental health and creative writer who regularly contributes to publications including, Psychology Today.

Activity History - Medically Reviewed on 30 October 2023 and last checked on 26 January 2024

Medically reviewed by
Morgan Blair


Morgan Blair


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