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.

How to Become a Sober Companion

How to Become a Sober Companion

Sober companions are probably best known by their work with celebrities as almost “glorified babysitters” but of course there is much more to it than that. Also, not all sober companions are watch dogs for celebrities. Sober companions work with slews of addicts and alcoholics sometimes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help them remain abstinent.

What is a sober companion?

A sober companion or sober 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. Controversy exists between sober companions, not only in their name (sober companion vs. sober coach vs. recovery coach), but over the use of any situation placing them in contact with other enablers. Also, some sober companions strongly agree with 12 step programs; other sober companions do not support the 12 step process and use alternative methods.

So how can you become a sober companion if you want to be one?

In keeping with several other forms of drug rehabilitation, some sober companions have no formal training or qualification. Most (but not all) companions are recovering addicts who have themselves been able to maintain multiple years of sobriety. While some companions will have some training in psychology, sociology, or medicine, in addition to a strong personal program of recovery, some may have taken the Recovery Coaching certifications offered by Recovery Coaching International ( or the very inexpensive (sometimes free) training offered by the Connecticut Center for Addiction Recovery ( training in a model for peer recovery support specialist roles and responsibilities. A few independent providers, such as Sober Champion require literature study and in-person training by an experienced professional.

There are growing recovery associations (,,,, and boards established to set standards or monitor the state of the field recovery coaching, that overlap some of the roles of a sober companion. There is no formal sober companion oversight and accountability as yet. Since early in 2011, Faces and Voices in Recovery has been working on developing standards, credentialing and more clearly defined roles of a recovery coach, peer support specialist, and a sober companion. One can see why there is a concern according to the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, as it is a process that is just underway.

The Sociotherapy Association certifies and trains Support Companions, Recovery/Sober Companions, Elderly Companions, and Adolescent Companions. The Sociotherapy Association in America created the Support Companions program to offer real support and relationship to those in need.

If you really want to be a sober companion the best place to start is with someone who already is. So go out and find people who are already doing what you want to do. If you can’t find anyone who is a sober companion go ahead and get on your computer. You can be sure to find ways to become a sober companion online.

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.

What is recovery capital?

Recovery Capital

What is recovery capital?

Recovery capital is the sum amount of resources that are necessary to begin and stay in recovery from addiction and alcoholism.

What is recovery?

Recovery has many definitions depending on who you talk to. In the United States, the Betty Ford Institute Consensus Panel defined recovery as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship. The most important part of the definition of recovery is the fact that it means having a sense of wellbeing, a high quality of life, and some sort of community engagement or sense of citizenship and some kind of sobriety. Whatever your definition for recovery is the point is that recovery is an experience and an improved life not a goal. Recovery is living a life based on principles such as hope, choice, freedom and aspirations. Recovery is a process not a state of being or end goal. Recovery is an ongoing journey to improve the state of your life.

So recovery capital is the sum of resources that help to start the journey or process of recovery. Resources that are a part of recovery capital can include parents, families, partners, friends, and neighbors. It also can refer to the person’s willingness to be sober, their commitment to their community, and the amount they engage and participate in value systems.

There are four parts of recovery capital; social capital, physical capital, human capital and cultural capital.

  • Social recovery capital is the sum of resources a person has due to their relationships with other people. This could mean support from and commitments to groups of people. Family membership, friendships, commitments and obligations to 12 step meetings etc.
  • Physical recovery capital is the resources that are tangible. For instance, physical recovery capital would be property or money that increases the options in recovery for this person. An example would be being able to afford to move to a different location or afford a better treatment center.
  • Human recovery capital is resources such as skills, health, aspirations, hopes and personal resources that can help someone prosper. Things such as the amount of an education a person has and how intelligent they are. The reason this is a part of recovery capital is because these things can help with some of the solution based parts of recovery.
  • Cultural recovery capital includes a person’s beliefs, attitudes, and values that tie them to social conformity and their ability to fit into dominant social behaviors.

In order to assess or see how much recovery capital a person has the focus is on the enmeshment of social, human and cultural recovery capital.

How much recovery capital a person has can determine how easy or how hard of a time they may have getting going on the journey into recovery. This does not mean that someone who has less recovery capital can’t get sober it just means they will have to build more recovery capital for themselves over time. Everyone through their journey in recovery builds more and more recovery capital whether they begin with none at all or only a little. It is possible for everyone to have enough recovery capital to begin recovering and stay recovered.

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery

First 30 days of recovery

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery

There’s a reason that most drug rehabs will recommend you stay in treatment for at least 30 days, and why 12 step programs tell you to go to 90 meetings in your first 90 days of recovery. The first few months after quitting drugs and alcohol are often the hardest. During this time, addicts and alcoholics are at the highest risk of relapse. Here is some advice for people with less than 30 days in recovery:

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery: Take care of yourself

One of the biggest reasons for relapse for people with less than 30 days in recovery is that they do not feel well. When your body is not physically fit, it can drain you psychologically and emotionally. Take care of yourself in the first couple months: eat good food, get plenty of rest, and exercise. Make sure you are washing your hands often to protect yourself from other people’s germs. Don’t let yourself get too hungry or tired. Make your health your top priority. If you do get sick, take it easy. Realize that a lot of what you are feeling is due to a temporary illness and that you will feel better soon.

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery: Go to meetings

Meetings are very important for people with less than 30 days in recovery. They allow you to build a support system, be accountable, and talk to other people in recovery. It also occupies your time. Having too much free time in early recovery can be a recipe for disaster. Boredom can very quickly lead to thoughts of using. Get a home group and a sponsor as soon as possible. Volunteer for a service commitment like making coffee or greeting people. Service is one of the best ways to meet new people and strengthen sobriety through helping others.

Advice for people with less than 30 days in Recovery: Tell on yourself

It is very common for people with less than 30 days in recovery to have thoughts of using. The best way to combat these thoughts before they turn into actions is to get in the habit of telling on yourself. As soon as you have these thoughts, call someone and tell them. Or raise your hand at a meeting and share. Not only will you open yourself up to people that can help, by just saying these things out loud, you can often stop the thoughts of using from consuming you. This can also work for any behaviors that you know are detrimental. When you lie, ‘fess up immediately. If you are having thoughts about breaking rules or doing other things that aren’t right, just tell someone. Remember, your addiction wants you to keep quiet. It wants you to justify your negative behavior. It wants you to isolate yourself from your support system. Do not let it. Do not trust your thoughts in early sobriety. Always talk to someone about how you are feeling and get input before every decision. If you are hesitating about talking to someone else about something you’re doing or planning to do, that should be an indication that it is not the right thing.

Difference between a Recovery Coach and a Life Coach

Difference between a Recovery Coach and a Life Coach

Difference between a Recovery Coach and a Life Coach

Most people think that recovery coaching and life coaching are the same thing. While it’s true that there is a lot of overlap between the two fields, they are not the same thing. But before we examine the difference between a recovery coach and a life coach, let’s look at how they are the same.

Recovery Coach and Life Coach: Similarities

  • Life coaching and recovery coaching both help people identify and achieve personal goals.
  • Life coaches and recovery coaches are not 12-step sponsors
  • Life coaching and recovery coaching work off a partnership model wherein the client is considered to be the expert on his or her life, the one who decides what is worth doing, and the coach provides expertise in supporting successful change.
  • Life coaches and recovery coaches are not therapists, and sessions are not meant to replace traditional therapy.
  • Life coaching and recovery coaching teach to thrive in recovery, not merely survive.
  • Life coaches and recovery coaches help you build a successful future.
  • Life coaches and recovery coaches are holistic guides: they help you grow mind, body and spirit.
  • Life coaches and recovery coaches support and guide you.

Recovery Coach and Life Coach: Difference

The main difference between a recovery coach and a life coach is that you don’t have to be in recovery to use a life coach. If you are in recovery, a life coach can help you towards your recovery goals as well as your other life goals.  However, people who are not in recovery use life coaches too.

Recovery coaching is specifically designed for people in recovery. To this end, recovery coaches may have a better idea of the specific challenges that relate to recovery from drugs and alcohol. This is not always the case, and many times life coaches have a lot of experience working with people in recovery, but this is one of the main differences between a recovery coach and a life coach.

Another difference between a recovery coach and a life coach is that a recovery coach focuses on your recovery goals as well as your life goals. They understand that you need a solid recovery before you can focus on other things in your life like school, career, and relationships. They also understand that to have a sustainable recovery, you must develop personal goals and make plans to attain them.

In addiction, we are often very destructive. Many of us come into treatment with our lives in shambles. We destroy relationships, finances, and career prospects. Those of us who suffer from the disease of alcoholism and addiction tend to be extraordinarily bad at managing our own lives. Unfortunately, this does not magically resolve itself when the drugs and alcohol are removed from the equation. Many of us still need extra support and guidance when it comes to rebuilding our lives and making plans for a happy, healthy and productive future. This is where life coaches and recovery coaches can help.

Being Transparent With Your Sponsee

Being transparent with your sponsee

Today during my morning reading, I came across a chapter that was all about the spiritual importance of transparency. Being open and sharing your true self with others, it said, was essential in order to clear the blockages caused by ego and truly open yourself to spiritual growth. I reflected on how important transparency is for addicts and alcoholics in particular.

Being transparent with your sponsee: What is transparency?

Before we get into the importance of being transparent with your sponsee, it’s probably best if I clarify what I mean by “transparent.” Transparency can be used in a lot of different contexts- to describe business dealings, government operations, or even material. When I talk about transparency, I’m talking about spiritual transparency. To me, spiritual transparency means being open and honest with the people around you. It means practicing what you preach. Transparency goes further than just “letting things go.” It means not holding on to those things in the first place.

Lack of transparency blocks us off from spirituality and connecting with other people. It is based in fear and self-doubt. We become blocked from others and we become anxious, uncomfortable, self-conscious, and/or frightened. We try to control the things around us.

Being transparent with your sponsee: We are as sick as our secrets

Often in AA, I’ve heard the phrase “Our secrets keep us sick.” or “We are only as sick as our worst secret.” More often than not, when someone relapses and comes back, and I ask them why, they tell me it’s because there was something they left off their fourth step. Instead of being completely transparent, they held something back.

This is one of the biggest reasons it is so important to be transparent with my sponsees. If I am not transparent with them, how will they feel comfortable being completely transparent with me? If they are not transparent with me, what are their chances of staying sober?

Transparency makes accountability possible. You can only be accountable for where you’re going, what you’re doing and how you’re spending your money if you are 100% honest.  A sponsor or other sober friend can help you spend your money on right things rather than your addiction–but only if you don’t lie to him or her about it.

Being transparent with your sponsee: Primary purpose

Our primary purpose as active members of Alcoholics Anonymous is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. We cannot carry a true message if we are not transparent in all our affairs. Sure, I could go to a meeting and speak about the spiritual principles of AA, but if I’m not practicing these outside of AA, then what kind of message am I sending?

One of the great gifts of being transparent is it means that I can use everything that you have experienced to help another alcoholic achieve sobriety. If I can share my own experience with another member of AA, and make them feel less alone, then my experience wasn’t a waste.

Anywhere you give yourself room to hide your actions and your true self; you may also be giving the darkness of this addiction room to grow.  It can be much too easy to lose yourself in that darkness.  When I think of transparency, I think of the pane of a window.  It lets in the light and leaves darkness no room to hide.

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.

What makes a great recovery coach?

What makes a great recovery coach?

Having a recovery coach to help you along the journey of sobriety is great. They can help you to set goals and achieve them, progress exponentially within your recovery, and also to hurdle any obstacle that may come your way. While all of this sounds amazing you have to make sure you are getting a good recovery coach in order to reap the benefits of having one. So what makes a great recovery coach? Is it merely their title? No. There are certain qualities a recovery coach should have that makes them great.

Here is what makes a great recovery coach

  • No hesitation. A great recovery coach will know the way without hesitation. A recovery coach that doesn’t hesitate means they have overcome their own obstacles and managed to stay positive. A great recovery coach won’t hesitate because they have achieved many if not all of their own goals they have set for themselves.
  • They are in recovery themselves! Many great recovery coaches will be in recovery themselves and this is what makes them great! No one can lead you to place they have not already been themselves. And if you want a recover y coach that is better than most than get one who has overcome the same thing you want to overcome-addiction and alcoholism!
  • Their life. A great recovery coach will have a well-balanced life and an inner peace that you find attractive. A great recovery coach is someone who you want to be around. Even in the face of hard times a recovery coach is ready and determined to succeed and shine in the process of overcoming anything.
  • The words they use. When you are searching for a great recovery coach, pay attention to the way they talk. Ask them about their values, and watch to see if they are living out those values. Are they experiencing success in their own lives? They will be able to use words to communicate how they achieved the success and they will be able to do so in a realistic way which is shown in their everyday life.
  • Accountability. A great recovery coach is always accountable. Most recovery coaches design their own workday and are able to set goals and achieve those goals. So pay attention, do they say they will call and then don’t call or are late? This is not a great recovery coach. A great recovery coach will always show up when they say they will and will always call when they say they will. They will always have a genuine positive attitude. When you fail they will always be there when they say the will be there to comfort and push you forward-they will never ignore or walk away from you.
  • Certification. A great recovery coach will most likely have a certificate. There are organizations that certify recovery coaches. Just because they are certified doesn’t mean they are the great recovery coach for you but it means they have taken the steps to become a recovery coach and have been held accountable. Certification means a recovery coach is in their profession for the right reasons.

There are a lot of great recovery coaches out there but what is most important is that you find one that is right for you. A great recovery coach is the person who works best with you on an individual and unique basis. If you have this plus all the qualities listed above you are ready for success and have found the perfect and greatest recovery coach there is.