Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a disease that requires professional help to heal and recover from successfully. However, even when an individual completes an addiction treatment program, they can be at risk for relapse. Relapse is when an individual goes back to using a substance after abstinence. Numerous triggers may cause an individual to turn back to drugs or alcohol. These triggers can range from persons, places, and things that recall one’s substance abuse leading to overwhelming cravings or be due to stressors in one’s personal or professional life; this is why relapse prevention is an integral part of recovery.
Upon completion of an addiction treatment program, many individuals will create a relapse prevention plan to help them deal with hiccups in their sobriety. Relapse isn’t a failure of treatment. While it is something medical professionals and individuals want to avoid, it is a natural part of recovery. What matters in recovering from addiction isn’t that an individual may have relapsed and used drugs or alcohol again, but that they have a plan to get the help they need to get themselves back on track should they do so. Recovery means having a relapse prevention plan and a plan for if relapse occurs.
What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A relapse prevention plan is a series of actions an individual can take after treatment to support their new sober lifestyle. It is designed to minimize episodes of relapse, if not eliminate the likelihood altogether. What makes a relapse prevention plan effective and useful is understanding that relapse is part of recovery; it frequently happens to individuals. But with a proper strategy in place for when it does, individuals can get themselves back on track to living sober.
It’s likely a good idea to write down your relapse prevention plan with clear steps and details about how to follow it. Having a physical guide can give individuals reassurance and easy reference to turn to. Think of a relapse prevention plan as your blueprint for how to keep stress from pushing to extremes and dealing with environmental triggers.
What to Consider
Individuals in recovery can conceive of relapse occurring in three different ways. There is emotional, mental, and physical relapse. This last form is what many people think of when they imagine relapse. However, physical relapse usually only occurs once aspects of emotional or mental relapse have occurred. Emotional relapse occurs when your feelings begin to push you towards substance abuse. This is often because an individual is experiencing some kind of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Mental relapse tends to be about intense cravings. You are unable to not think about drugs or alcohol. Many times, environmental triggers heighten this, whether they are being with people you associate with substance use or in a place that provokes vivid memories of using.
When emotional and mental relapse combines, they will often lead to using drugs or alcohol again. Physical relapse can take several forms as well. Some individuals relapse by excessive use while others relapse by only taking a sip of alcohol or a small drug dose. Unfortunately, both of these types of physical relapse can lead an individual back into addiction. Therefore, having a relapse prevention plan is necessary to avoid these situations and have a way to deal with them if they arise.
When you create your personalized relapse prevention plan, consider listing potential triggers and warning signs of use. Involve others so they know the signs of when you are struggling and what your triggers may be. Also, find support groups or activities you can engage in to avoid allowing emotional and mental relapse.
Recover from Addiction Today
After you or a loved one have completed an addiction treatment program, it’s wise to have a relapse prevention plan in place. Doing so allows you or your loved one to immediately get the support necessary to avoid substance use disorder or addiction from retaking hold. The Treatment Connection website enables you to search for treatment providers in your area anonymously. You can also determine what type of treatment most likely fits you or your loved one’s needs. To learn more about available addiction treatment options, visit Treatment Connection.