Relapse Prevention Techniques
Many individuals who make it into recovery will relapse at least once within the first few months. This is why in many treatment centers there is so much emphasis put on providing relapse prevention techniques to those who are new in recovery and those who have also relapsed already. Returning to addiction can mean many more years of additional suffering for the addict. And some people who relapse will never have another opportunity to quit and could even die due to their drug use. This is why focusing of relapse prevention techniques is so helpful; it literally can reduce the risk of relapse and death.
Relapse prevention techniques include any tool that an addict can use to avoid a return back into drug use and drinking. The causes of relapse are usually broken down into three categories. Relapse prevention techniques have been developed to combat all of them. The three categories of relapse usually are:
- Emotional causes: This is when the addict usually goes back to using drugs because they can’t cope with their thoughts and emotions.
- Developing unhealthy patterns of behavior, and this makes them more prone to relapse.
- External situation can also increase the chance of a relapse. Perfect example of this would be an individual who has halfway house roommates that are all using drugs and drinking.
Another part of relapse prevention techniques is identifying different triggers which can be precursors for relapse. By identifying relapse triggers a person can find different coping mechanisms they can use to combat them all. Here are some examples of relapse triggers:
- Feeling sad
- Feeling happy
- Looking at veins
- Going to football games
- Driving down certain streets
- The car or wherever the individual used
- Certain T.V shows and music
Recognizing also what precedes the relapse is also an important relapse prevention technique. These things are kind of behaviors, thoughts or ideas an addict would have before they relapsed and there is usually a pattern with these:
- The individual can experience overconfidence . This can mean that they are not prepared when things get hard.
- Life in recovery can take a bit of getting used and some people may experience periods of self-pity. This is a dangerous emotion because it can sap motivation.
- Those people who have unrealistic expectations can become disappointed.
- If the individual_ behaves dishonestly_, it can lead them right back to addiction.
- Occasionally, people in recovery will experience periods of depression. This can take a lot of the satisfaction out of sobriety.
- Those who continue other types of substance abuse will be increasing their chances of relapse.
- Taking recovery for granted leads to complacency. This then means that the individual is no longer doing those things they need to do in order to remain sober.
Also knowing the different stages of a relapse because a relapse is not merely the use of drugs and alcohol again it is also everything leading up to, is another great relapse prevention technique. Here are the stages of a relapse:
- During the emotional stage the individual will be struggling with recovery, but not actually thinking about a return to substance abuse. The most appropriate relapse prevention tools here would be those that can restore emotional equilibrium.
- During the mental stage of relapse, the person is thinking about drinking or using drugs again. The urge to return to addiction can be strong. Various techniques are needed to combat this before it is too late.
- All is not lost at the relapse stage. If the individual has the right resources, they may be able to return to the recovery path right away.