Learning About What is a Relapse Prevention Plan
The first six months following successful completion of an addiction treatment program are the most tenuous when it comes to relapse. In fact, studies have shown that up to 80% of adults and teens who had completed a program began using again within six months. Because substance addiction is considered a chronically relapsing condition, taking steps to prevent relapse after treatment is crucial.
One of the biggest challenges during this period is adjusting to actually feeling life without the substance that once dulled life’s difficulties. Suddenly, now clean and sober, one has to experience the raw emotions, frustrations, fears, and stressors that once were softened and blurred with the substance. By anticipating the people, places, or things that could potentially lead to relapse is an important element of addiction treatment. So, what is a relapse prevention plan?
What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A relapse occurs when an individual in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction begins using the substance again. A relapse can be a single “slip,” one day where they fell down in recovery. Relapse can also launch a lengthy binge mode that can become life threatening, as the detoxified body is not accustomed to the substance, resulting in overdose or alcohol poisoning. Although relapse is extremely common in early recovery, it is to be avoided at all costs.
A relapse prevention plan can be a written document, a workbook format, or just a verbal plan that is developed in counseling sessions. It helps to put your plan together with someone else present, as their objectivity and support will help you make a more comprehensive plan.
To understand what is a relapse prevention plan you should first understand the power of triggers. Identifying one’s own particular triggers is critical. With the raw, exposed emotional vulnerability in early recovery, stressors and strife can trigger relapse. Also, doing an honest review of past patterns of compulsive drug or alcohol use. Who would you use with? Where would you use? What did you hope the substance would help you with—anxiety, depression, marital strife, boredom, or loneliness?
Once these potential landmines to your recovery are identified and noted, a plan of attack needs to be outlined. If you feel your recovery is threatened, what specific steps will you immediately take? Who will you contact (develop a support system)? The more detail your relapse prevention plan has, the more effective it will be when needed.
Other Relapse Prevention Strategies
Acknowledge the warning signs. There are often red flags that pop up well in advance of the actual relapse event. You may begin to believe you don’t need to attend a recovery group anymore, or may stop calling your sponsor for support. Recognize that these are warning signs of relapse. As soon as triggers start to activate, such as loneliness or boredom or stress, be proactive and alleviate those issues.
- Hire a sober companion if needed. Sometimes you may need added support in early recovery. You recognize you are losing your power to fight off cravings. It may be wise to bring a sober companion on board to help you navigate early recovery. A sober companion can prepare your home for recovery, transport you to appointments and 12-step meetings, help you create a healthy daily routine, and offer added support when needed.
- Use an interactive app. Currently there are several interactive apps available that can be accessed on a mobile device, such as Sober Tool, ASCENT, Casava, SMART Recovery, and Field Guide to Life. These apps provide an instant source of reinforcement and support, including an emergency response element if relapse is impending. The recovery support apps have varying features so it helps to have more than one on your phone.
Sober living. An excellent way to minimize the triggers and temptations that accompany early recovery is to spend a few months in sober living. A sober living environment offers a supportive, drug and alcohol-free space that allows for new sober lifestyle habits to take root. Participation in a 12-step or similar program is required, and residents are expected to work at a job as well.
Phoenix Rising Can Help Develop an Effective Relapse Prevention Plan
When asking, “What is a relapse prevention plan?” the highly skilled clinical team at Phoenix Rising will have the answer for you—providing a clear roadmap for creating your solid relapse prevention strategy. A critical element in a successful, sustained recovery is dealing with past traumas or emotional pain that may underlie the addiction. There is power in having a supportive team of caring therapists who wants you to succeed, and Phoenix Rising is that support team. Contact us today at (877) 299-5694.