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.

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.