Relapse prevention is an important part of recovery. It doesn’t matter how long a person has been sober, relapse can happen at any time. It’s important to know what your triggers are and to have a plan in place so that you are equipped to handle these triggers and any other difficult situation that may arise.
What Is A Drug or Alcohol Relapse?
The definition of a relapse is the return to drug or alcohol use after a period of abstinence. Relapse is dangerous. When someone stops using drugs for some time, their body detoxes. Most of the time when a person has a slip-up, they will try to use the same amount they used before they quit. Their body is no longer tolerant to this amount of drug, so the chances of an overdose increase dramatically. Relapse is common and normal, but it doesn’t have to happen. This is why relapse prevention is an important part of recovery.
More On Relapse Prevention
Relapse prevention is a very essential component of a successful long-term recovery. One of the first steps in learning about relapse prevention is to be able to identify what triggers you and to understand that there are three stages of relapse: emotional, mental, and physical. As a broad concept, the goal of relapse prevention is to avoid the return to active drug or alcohol use, at any cost. Your recovery is a priority and without it, everything else in life usually falls apart. The National Institute of Health says on the topic of relapse prevention:
Relapse prevention is an essential part of addiction recovery. Frequent relapses may prevent individuals from progressing in overcoming their addiction. Although relatively little is known about brain functioning in addiction recovery, sustained abstinence likely allows time for the brain to resume normal functioning that can lay the foundations for long term success. Providers have long recognized that relapse is a process rather than an event. Some relapse prevention programs have delineated stages of relapse, starting with an “emotional relapse” followed by a “mental relapse” and culminating in a “physical relapse.” The dissection of the relapse process in this way allows for the early recognition of initial signs and symptoms and the establishment of preventative interventions for each stage. (NIH)
How Relapse Prevention Manages Triggers
Let’s talk about triggers. Staying away from old people, places, and things is a good first step in preventing relapse. Ultimately, each person is going to have certain things that trigger them. Being able to identify what specifically triggers you, prepares you especially for situations you cannot control. Also, there are some common triggers of relapse to be aware of:
- Financial issues
- Relationship issues
- Old habits
- Poor self-care
- Old places
Once you are aware of your triggers, avoid them at all costs. If situations arise beyond your control, having a plan in place is key to being able to overcome the situation.
What Does a Relapse Prevention Plan Do?
Relapse prevention should be part of every recovering addict’s daily routine and schedule. After you’ve identified your triggers, one of the most important things is having a list of emergency contact numbers for the people in your immediate support circle. If you find yourself in a bad spot where you are feeling triggered, pick up that phone! Call someone! The second most important thing is making sure you are practicing good self-care. This means getting adequate sleep, eating, exercising, and taking care of any other physical or mental issues that you may have by getting regular care from your doctors. Also, taking time out for yourself to do something you enjoy is important. Another part of self-care is being aware of HALT. What is this? HALT is an acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. These are the four most common triggers for people in recovery. If you are having a feeling of wanting to use, ask yourself if you are feeling any of these symptoms. Learning healthy coping skills and practicing meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing exercises are also effective in preventing relapse. Also, having a good support group to attend to is a must. Being able to share things that are on your mind with people that are going through some of the same things as you is priceless. Don’t ever forget where you came from. Some people get too comfortable in their recovery and gradually stop implementing the skills they have learned. Getting too comfortable can set you up for failure and when you least expect it. Always be prepared. Always!
Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Miramar offers cutting-edge addiction treatment. We are South Florida’s premier medical detox and residential treatment facility. We will help you rebuild your life and get on the road to a long-lasting recovery. Call us today for more information around the clock.