Relapse Prevention Techniques

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.

What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion, Sober Coach, or Recovery Coach?

A sober companion, sober coach, or recovery coach provides one-on-one assistance to newly recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. The goal is to help the client maintain total abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and to establish healthy routines outside of a residential treatment facility. Sober coaches assist with the transition from treatment back to everyday living. The sober coach will meet the client at discharge, accompany them on their trip home, and within 24 hours, attend with them their first AA or NA meeting.

What are the Duties of a Sober Companion?

The sober companion’s duties encompass a wide variety, from ensuring that the client remains abstinent to serving as a resource broker and advocate in the client’s home community.

The primary duty of a sober companion is to ensure the recovering addict does not relapse. They may be hired to provide round the clock care, be on-call, or to accompany the recovering addict during particular activities, such as taking them to fellowship meetings at which the recovery coach encourages them to meet people and get phone numbers. They work together with the client in making their home a clean and sober environment, as well support the client in following through with their recommended discharge plan.

A sober companion also acts as an advocate for the newly recovering person and provides new ways for the client to act in their own living environment. Many companions use techniques such as chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, meditation, distraction, massage, diet and proper nutrition, exercise and even prayer and affirmation of sober choices. A sober coach either completely removes the addict from his own environment of hidden stashes, or may search for hidden drugs in their own environment, in an effort to make the living environment safe for the client and to prevent them from relapsing

How Long Does Sober Companion Services Last?

Companions are available to assist clients for as long as support is deemed necessary. Sober companion treatment usually lasts for 30 days however, oftentimes, much longer. The time required to effect a meaningful change varies greatly depending upon the client, their co-occurring disorders, and the family life at home. Ideally, a companion’s presence in the client’s life will decrease as the client’s ability to confront family, work, and legal issues without relapse is proven. Some providers stay with their clients for many months, and some offer only transportation services.

The Benefits of Having a Sober Companion

The first few days outside of the structured treatment setting are typically the most critical – and most trying for the newly recovering alcoholic/addict. This transitional period is often awkward and uncomfortable for the recovering person therefore, sober companionship and coaching offers support, encouragement, and camaraderie during this crucial time.

Other circumstances for which having a sober coach is beneficial are cases where an actor or musician will not attend treatment, but must remain abstinent to complete a film or recording project. Another circumstance might be that the newly recovering alcoholic/addict is in school and thus needs to be back in their own living environment.








12 Steps to a Relapse

12 steps to a relapse

12 Steps to a Relapse   

The 12 step model for addiction recovery have long been accepted by the addiction treatment community as a way to stay clean and sober in the long term. Another commonly held idea in addiction treatment is that relapse starts long before you ever pick up a drink or a drug. These two ideas come together in the 12 steps to a relapse.

The Alcoholics Anonymous: Big Book says, “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” (pg.85) This means that even if we have worked all 12 steps, we can still relapse if we do not maintain our spiritual condition. If we become comfortable in our recovery and “rest on our laurels” we run the risk of relapse.

Sometimes old patterns of behavior begin to come back. This is where we may start to see a relapse begin. We may start working the 12 steps in reverse. This is what is known as the 12 steps to a relapse.

It begins when we get too busy to carry the message. Maybe we have replaced recovery with work, gym or a relationship. We get overconfident. We have less contact with other recovering alcoholics and meeting attendance starts to decline. This is the first step in the 12 steps to a relapse.

Next we may stop praying or meditating. We no longer seek conscious contact with a higher power. It may be subtle at first. But over time, we no longer pray or meditate at all.

The next step in the 12 steps to a relapse is the unworking of steps 10-4.  We stop taking inventory and we stop making amends. Our character defects come back, and we are unwilling to have a higher power remove them. We lose sight of the moral inventory we once made and begin to repeat the same behavior we exhibited during addiction.

The 12 steps to a relapse continue when we take our will back. Not just a little, as we may have done in the past, but the whole thing. We start to try to run the show.  The power we once believed  could restore us to sanity is now out the window. We begin believe we can do it ourselves. We believe we now have the power, and we can manage our own lives. These are unworking steps three, two, and one in the 12 steps to a relapse. At this point, we are likely to pick up a drug or drink. We likely feel irritable, restless, and discontent. The “hole in the soul” has come back, and we seek other things to fill it.

The 12 steps to a relapse can be avoided if we are constantly moving forward and growing in our program. This is why it is especially important to have a home group and get to know the people in it. Others can sometimes recognize when we have become lacking in our program or when we have begun to work the 12 steps to a relapse. They may be able to catch it before it is too late.

Recovery Options for a Chronic Relapser

Recovery Options for a Chronic Relapser

The recovery options for a chronic relapser have to be a little different than for those who have no history of relapses what so ever. A chronic relapser struggles to stay sober. Each time they manage to get any time in recovery they end up using or drinking again. And unfortunately most addicts and alcoholics are chronic relapsers. This does not mean that chronic relapsers cannot stay sober because they can, if they are willing to pick themselves up and try again.

What is a chronic relapser?

Chronic relapsers often get caught in a kind of negative cycle or revolving door syndrome. This means they get caught in a negative pattern of going to rehab, getting sober, leaving rehab and then relapsing again. Chronic relapsers will do this for years and may even just decided that the recovery options out there for them such as rehab just don’t work. There are so many reasons that chronic relapsers get caught in a revolving door syndrome but the realities are they haven’t adequately received recovery options to prepare them for the transition into life again.

So what are the recovery options for chronic relapsers?

A recovery option for chronic relapsers that is effective is a rehab program that combines medication with therapy and counseling. Rehab programs for chronic relapsers should be inpatient and long term programs that begin with detox. A proper recovery option for chronic relapsers is a rehab program that designs the program for each individual case to suit each person’s specific needs and addresses all of their specific emotional, mental and physical issues. A recovery option for chronic relapsers is also a rehab program that offers follow-up options which is imperative for chronic relapsers staying sober in the long run.

Another recovery option for chronic relapsers is a part of drug rehab; it is known as relapse prevention. A great recovery option for chronic relapsers is for them to attend relapse prevention classes. Relapse prevention classes teach a chronic relapser all about the reasons they relapse so they can avoid it happening again. Relapse prevention classes teach how relapse is a process not a single event and is individualized to each person so they recognize their own unique triggers and relapse warning signs. This is paramount to a chronic relapser being able to avoid slipping up again. Once a chronic relapser is aware they can begin to take action to avoid using drugs or drinking again.

Aftercare is an absolute paramount recovery option for chronic relapsers. Aftercare is also a part of follow-ups with drug treatment. Aftercare offers groups, alumni meetings, coaching, and so much more depending on what the chronic relapser needs. Aftercare is way for the chronic relapser to check in with people who will keep them accountable and motivated in their recovery. One of the biggest ways to avoid relapse is to keep accountability and motivation in recovery. Aftercare offers this through the community that is also sober meeting up once a week or so.

The recovery options for chronic relapsers are specifically designed to take the addict and alcoholic out their revolving door syndrome so they never have to use or drink again. While some people say relapse is a part of recovery it does not have to be a part of recovery if the addict or alcoholic takes the right action.

Aftercare Services in Recovery

Aftercare Services in Recovery

Aftercare Services in Recovery

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process. Some people will attend an inpatient treatment center and figure “Hey, I’m cured; I can go back to living my life.” Unfortunately, this is not the case for most addicts, which is why most treatment centers recommend some kind of aftercare service when you get out.

Here are the most common aftercare services in recovery:

Aftercare Services in Recovery: Outpatient Treatment

Most inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers offer some kind of outpatient treatment as well. Usually, outpatient treatment is used as one of the aftercare services in recovery, rather than primary treatment. Once you have completed a 30 to 90 day program (in some cases longer), you leave the treatment center and return several times a week to continue treatment. Outpatient aftercare services in recovery are a good follow up to inpatient treatment because it keeps a person in recovery accountable and helps them deal with things that come up once they are living on their own. For many alcoholics and addicts, the most dangerous time is right after they leave inpatient treatment. The risk for relapse is very high. Outpatient services at a drug and alcohol treatment center can improve the chances that an alcoholic or addict will stay clean and sober in the long term.

Aftercare Services in Recovery: Sober Houses

Sober living homes offer a concentrated, drug free environment so that individuals who have finished inpatient drug treatment programs can further establish and strengthen their sobriety. This is one of the aftercare services in recovery that is highly recommended, because people who go to sober houses have a better chance of long-term recovery. Sober houses provide an opportunity to cement the coping skills, communication techniques, and healthy lifestyles that are initiated during residential treatment. In addition, sober houses provide an environment where people in recovery can form a strong support system. In a sober living home, you will be surrounded by other people who are trying to establish a drug and alcohol free lifestyle. Most sober living homes are designed to keep you accountable by establishing guidelines that include regular drug tests, compulsory attendance at twelve step groups, and requirements to find a job and contribute to rent.

Aftercare Services in Recovery: 12 Step Groups

Twelve step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are possibly the oldest and most well-established of the aftercare services in recovery. Since its inception, Alcoholics Anonymous and groups like it have helped millions of people recover from addiction to drugs and alcohol. The groups offer support, camaraderie, and accountability to people struggling with addiction. Most fellowships recommend that you attend 90 meetings during the first 90 days of sobriety. They also counsel that you should get a sponsor, join a home group, and work the 12 steps of recovery. Twelve step groups frequently host fellowship events which are fun activities within a sober environment. This can be invaluable to a recovering alcoholic or drug addict.

5 Things You Will Have to Face in Early Recovery

5 Things You Will Have to Face in Early Recovery

1. Many of the people you were in treatment with will relapse

It’s an unfortunate but unavoidable truth: One of the things you will have to face in early recovery is your friends relapsing. There is hope for everyone, but the more time you spend in recovery, you will see that it’s a numbers game.  In the rooms, you will often hear that you sometimes need to “step over bodies” to get sober. Most of the time, this is figurative. You “step over bodies” when you cut off contact with those who go out. You “step over bodies” when you focus on your own recovery despite people around you doing the wrong things. Sometimes, the saying becomes literal. In my third month of recovery, I found out that a friend of mine had been found dead in his room. He had overdosed and died in his sleep. Some people relapse and come back, others don’t get the opportunity.

2. Your friends and family may not trust you

This was a hard thing to face in early recovery-the fact that my father didn’t really trust me. He wouldn’t give me cash, because he was afraid I would spend it on drugs. Every day he would ask me if I used. I got really annoyed at first-I knew I was doing well. Why didn’t he? But the truth of the matter is I had given my family and friends no reason to think that I would do well this time around. I had been to treatment before. I had even gone to AA before, and I still got high. It takes a long time to rebuild trust.

3. You may have to re-learn how to socialize

Many of us used drugs and alcohol as social lubricants. They gave us confidence and decreased our inhibitions. One of the things you may have to face in early recovery is social anxiety. You may have to re-learn how to interact with people without the use of drugs or alcohol. When I was early in recovery, my therapist recommended that I didn’t have a car for the first few months. His rationale is that not having a car would force me to reach out to other women in the program for rides to meetings and to my job. It worked. I had to reach out, and I had to learn to socialize with people I had never even met in some cases, but I built a strong support system.

4. New relationships can be dangerous in early recovery

The tendency for single people to enter into a new, romantic relationship in early recovery and then relapse is so much more common than anyone would first guess. You have to be around for a while to believe it, but in my experience, relationships take more people out than anything else. The new relationship replaces the need for recovery. If you can latch on to a new romance in early recovery, then the need to work on yourself and push for personal growth completely vanishes.

5. Your emotions may overwhelm you

After years of self-medication, one of the things I had to face in early recovery was dealing with the emotional rollercoaster. I wasn’t used to the highs and lows because I had been numbing myself for so many years. I found I benefited from simply learning how to identify an emotion or feeling and simply learning to accept it for what it is rather than to try and fight it or medicate.

Guide for when your roommate relapses (5 things you must do)

Guide for when your roommate relapses (5 things you must do)

My roommate relapsed shortly after I had moved out of a sober house and it brought up a lot of emotions for me. I was angry, sad, scared, and frustrated. I was newly sober myself, and since I was renting a room in her house, I knew I’d have to find a new place to live. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. Luckily, I had a sponsor with experience in the program, and she helped me figure it out. So here is my guide for when your roommate relapses:

1. CALL YOUR SPONSOR: This is the first and most important step when your roommate relapses. Your sponsor usually has experience with situations like this or can direct you to someone else with experience. They are the best resource when making decisions and arrangements when your roommate relapses. For example, whether or not you or your roommate are on the lease, whether or not you have a signed agreement for such situations dictating what you will do if one of you relapses, or whether or not you are living in a sober living environment will dictate the next step you should take.

2. Go to a meeting: When things go wrong in my life, my go-to place is always a meeting.  It gets me out of my head, and it’s a great place to meet newcomers. My sponsor’s advice is always the same when I’m feeling angry or helpless: Go help someone else. Get out of yourself. Pray and meditate. Do what you need to do for your own sobriety so that you are able to be helpful to everyone in your life, including a roommate who has relapsed.

3. Assess the risk: If your roommate relapses, and does not want help or is too intoxicated to really listen, you may want to think about staying somewhere else until you can decide what to do. If you are newly sober, it’s usually best to put some distance between yourself and your roommate.

4. Take the next step: Often when two people in recovery live together, they will have some sort of agreement about what should be done if either one relapses. Usually, one will have to go to detox for a few days, or the one who relapses will have to find a new place to live. If you live in a sober house, you should let your house manager know.

5. Take precautions for the future: If your roommate does want help and does go to detox or halfway, make sure that you set clear ground rules if she moves back in and relapses again. Have a plan in place to protect yourself. If you end up moving out, take some precautions with your next roommate. While you can never say for sure who will stay sober and who will not, it’s best to live with someone who has worked the 12-steps and is sponsoring others.

What to do if your sponsee relapses

It’s not hard to tell when a sponsee is headed towards a relapse. Usually, they’ll stop calling, stop going to meetings, and stop working the steps. What you do really depends on your sponsee. There’s really nothing you can do until your sponsee wants to come back, that’s when you take the action. If they are out there using and don’t want help, the only thing you can do is pray and be available to them when they do want help.

If your sponsee relapses for a couple of days, then wants to come back, there are a few different options. You can pick them up and take them to a meeting, start steps over, and offer support. If detox is an option, you can help them find a place to go. Usually, if your sponsee has a short relapse like this, they don’t necessarily need to return to treatment, but every situation is different. If your sponsee wants to go back to treatment, then certainly be supportive. Sometimes, if a sponsee is living a dangerous environment (i.e. with other people who are using) then treatment can be a good option.

Treatment is advantageous when your sponsee relapses, because it takes them out of their “using environment” for a period of time. Usually if a sponsee relapses for a couple days, they aren’t going to be immediately living in a “using environment.” With longer relapses, however, treatment is sometimes the best option, particularly if they have had some kind of trauma while relapsing. Treatment allows a person to stabilize and focus on recovery, and it also allows them access to therapy.

If your sponsee relapses while living in a sober house, your plan of action will likely depend on the rules of the sober house. Usually, the first time your sponsee relapses, the sober house will require them to go to detox for a specific period of time before they can come back to the sober house. Sometimes a sober house will evict them.

If your sponsee relapses, the main thing is that they need to be willing to get or receive help. If they are willing to try to get sober, you can offer help, and design a plan around their needs. However, you can’t force anyone to get or stay sober.

Sometimes, when your sponsee relapses, you may need to make a 12th step call. Maybe your sponsee calls and asks for helps, or maybe it is a friend or family who will ask you to make a 12th step call. These calls are similar to interventions, and for exact guidelines, ask your sponsor. Generally, however, you will take another person in the program with you to meet your sponsee. You will try to convince your sponsee to get help, either by taking them to detox or a meeting. Some sponsors I have known have taken their sponsees to their own houses to sober up, though this is controversial. Again, consult your sponsor before making any kind of 12 step call when your sponsee relapses.

My roommate is using drugs again. What should I do?

If your roommate is using drugs again you may be wondering to yourself what should I do?

Having a roommate relapse can be very scary and probably will send you into a little bit of a panic. Dealing with relapses in any capacity can be difficult but this is your roommate, you live with them. It’s a little different when you have someone who shares your living space such as a roommate end up using drugs again. Don’t worry though there are certain steps you can take to make sure you and your roommate will make it through this and be ok.

Kick your roommate out.

Your best option and one that is safest for you is to ask your roommate to leave. When an addict or alcoholic begins using drugs again they are very unstable and not themselves. Your roommate although he or she may be a great person, when on drugs, could end up stealing from you, lying to you, breaking things, or inviting people who aren’t so great over. This is the nature of the disease not the nature of your roommate, remember that. If your roommate is using drugs again and you want to ask them to leave make sure to do it with love, kindness, and in a way which your roommate will probably understand.

Get your roommate’s family involved.

Do you have your roommate’s family phone numbers? Do you know your roommate’s family? Can you get ahold of them somehow? Instead of immediately jumping towards kicking your roommate out for using drugs again you could call their family and let their family know what’s going on. They may be able to give your roommate a place to stay if he or she can no longer stay in your apartment or they may be able to take certain steps towards getting your roommate into a drug and alcohol rehab.

Take your roommate to the hospital or detox if they are willing.

If you are capable of sitting down and having a conversation with your roommate since they started using drugs again, then you may want to talk to them about going to detox or the hospital. See if your roommate wants help for the drug and alcohol problem. If you are very close with your roommate tell them how their using affects you and how you want them to get help and that if they get help they can continue on living there with you. If your roommate is using drugs again but it is willing to go to detox or the hospital, call the nearest facility in your area and get your roommate there asap. The detox facility and hospital will also be able to guide you on how to handle the entire situation.

If your roommate is using again and you don’t know what to do, it is always best to ask for outside help from family, a facility, or law enforcement. If you don’t think this is necessary you can attempt to talk to your roommate on your own. Your roommate after using drugs again should not be allowed to stay with you any longer though. If your roommate gets severely dangerous or becomes a threat to you or becomes a threat to them selves, then you should call 911 immediately. You both can make it through this, no need to panic. Ask for help.


Relapse prevention in early recovery

Relapse prevention in early recovery

Often in early recovery, drug addicts and alcoholics face issues that they have not had to deal with during active addiction. While using and drinking, we often ignore or neglect real life issues. Once we give up the drug or drink, we are forced to face life on life’s terms, and this has caused many addicts and alcoholics to relapse in early recovery.

One of the most important things drug addicts and alcoholics can do to prevent relapse in early recovery is to take suggestions from people that have more clean time than us. It can be difficult for a drug addict or alcoholic to take advice and suggestions because we are used to running our own lives. However, we must recognize that our own thoughts and actions are not always the healthiest in early recovery.  This is the reason that obtaining a sponsor early in the process is so vital.  A sponsor can give suggestions, assist with problem solving, and can spot behavior that may lead us back to using before we even recognize it ourselves.

It is also important in early recovery to avoid high risk situations. Once we have worked 12-steps and are spiritually fit, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous promises us that we will be able to go anywhere and do anything. However, to prevent relapse in early recovery, it is best to avoid people, places, and things that may tempt us to use drugs. One of the ways we can do this is to avoid places that serve alcohol unless there is a compelling reason for us to be there. Also, we should pay attention to the way we are feeling. Often, when we are feeling hungry or tired, we have thoughts of using and drinking. It is very important to take care of ourselves physically to prevent relapse in early recovery. Not only are our bodies still recovering from the damage that drugs and alcohol inflicted, but feeling sick, tired, or in pain can trigger us to relapse in early recovery.

Another common issue that drug addicts and alcoholics face in early recovery is that we do not know how to relieve stress or have fun without using or drinking. It is vital that we learn how to relax and enjoy life without the use of drugs or alcohol to prevent relapse in early recovery. A great way to do this is to make friends that are also in recovery, and to get involved in the sober activities of a 12-step fellowship. Another essential part of early recovery is meditation. When we take time to meditate, focus on breathing, and clear our minds, we find it much easier to deal with the everyday stresses of life.

Finally, to prevent relapse in early recovery, it is essential for us be honest in all our affairs. During active addiction, lying and manipulating become a way of life for us, but we cannot afford to lie in recovery. Lying traps us in our addiction. If we cannot be completely honest with our sober supports: our sponsor, therapist, doctor, and people in our 12-step group, we will not succeed in recovery. Complete honesty is the only option for the drug addict or alcoholic who wishes to recover and to prevent relapse in early recovery.