Once you get through a drug addiction treatment program, you still have a lot of work in front of you. Recovery is a life-long endeavor. Yes, it gets easier over time, but you must always be on the lookout for signs that a relapse may be near. Living after addiction will be easier if you have a relapse prevention plan in place as early as possible. To create an effective strategy, you need to understand what to look for, why relapse occurs, and what you can do to help get through the difficult times when relapse may be approaching.
A Gradual Process
A relapse prevention plan takes into account that relapse isn’t something that happens overnight. It is a gradual process that sees each stage having its risks. The process of relapse prevention involves knowing the stages of recovery and recognizing the danger in each step.
Stages of Relapse
The stages of relapse fall into three steps, and a relapse prevention plan will take each of these stages into account by helping you recognize the signs and hopefully taking steps to prevent relapse before it reaches the third stage.
- Emotional relapse involves bottling up emotions, isolating yourself, not attending meetings, and not sleeping or eating properly. This stage is when you first stop your self-care routine and may start focusing on the issues that other people are facing. It becomes especially dangerous if you start blaming yourself for those troubles.
- Mental relapse comes next. During this stage, cravings increase. You may start to glamorize using and lie about the bad parts of being an addict. You use bargaining, such as telling yourself you will only use one more time and then never again. At this point, you may start to look for opportunities to relapse or start making plans that will put you in a position to use.
- Physical relapse is the last stage and the one in which you take drugs or drink. This part is usually a relapse of opportunity rather than planning. What often happens here is that you feel so bad about relapsing that you start beating yourself up emotionally, which leads back to the first stages. The circle becomes ongoing until you consciously stop it.
Rules For Relapse Prevention
When you enter an addiction treatment program, it will generally be within the first couple of sessions that you work on a relapse prevention plan. Before starting, you will need to understand the five rules of relapse prevention. These are:
- Change your life to avoid being in risky situations.
- Be honest with yourself and others. You have an addiction problem and must avoid using substances at all costs.
- Be willing to ask for help. Trying to battle this alone is a needless risk you don’t need to take.
- Practice self-care. Those who successfully travel the rehab road understand that self-care is an essential part of recovery. You need to eat well, exercise, sleep well, and practice setting appropriate boundaries with others.
- Don’t bend the rules. These are rules that many people have found to work well. You can’t simply pick and choose or only follow the rules when it seems convenient.
A relapse prevention plan is a part of nearly every addiction therapy program. Reaching out when you or a loved one is attempting to travel the recovery path may be difficult. However, it can make the most significant difference when it comes to succeeding. Relapse sometimes happens, but with a good plan in place, you have yet another support in place — and support is something we all can use.