Relapse Prevention: How To Reduce The Risk Of Relapse

In recovery, there will always be a chance of relapse. Taking proactive steps to reduce the risk of relapse is essential to staying sober.

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Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process that often involves multiple changes in a person’s life, including physical, behavioral, social, and psychological.

Changes in self-awareness, life balance, learning how to manage cravings, and developing healthy relationships are some of the crucial factors for maintaining recovery.

Each individual’s strategies for maintaining recovery are unique, and some strategies are more effective than others, depending on the individual.

Understanding Addiction And Relapse

Those recovering from addiction often encounter relapse, and many experts assert that relapse is a very normal part of the recovery process for most people.

However, it is important that people who are in recovery take steps to avoid relapse, as the consequences can be dire. They may lose their families, employment, relationships, and even their lives.

The most common relapse prevention strategies include therapies, medications, and monitoring.

Build A Support System

One strategy for preventing relapse is building a support system. Someone’s support system may include family, friends, or peer support.

A variety of peer support programs are available. Peer support programs may help with treatment acceptance and retention.

Family support has been found to be crucial in recovery. Family members can often identify early warning signs of relapse that the individual may not recognize.

Family and friends can also provide positive emotional support as well as instrumental support to prevent relapse.

Continue With Therapy And Counseling

Continuing with evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial to relapse prevention by changing behaviors and thoughts around substance abuse.

CBT can also help someone develop coping skills to handle situations in which relapse may occur.

Continuing counseling may involve family or group sessions to repair family relationships and provide support to individuals by giving them the opportunity to meet others going through similar situations.

Work On Coping Mechanisms

One of the most crucial factors in preventing relapse is someone’s ability to use effective coping mechanisms in situations that can trigger relapse.

Coping mechanisms are thoughts and behaviors used to manage stressful situations. Someone who uses these skills in high-risk situations is less likely to relapse.

Coping may involve an attempt to accept, confront, or reframe a situation or avoid a situation altogether. Coping strategies may also involve being mindful of urges and choosing not to act on them.

Make Lifestyle Changes As Needed

Making lifestyle changes is often a necessary step in recovery. This involves changing old habits
and behaviors.

Lifestyle changes for someone recovering from addiction may mean not hanging out at the same places or with the same people, diet changes, job changes, avoiding certain situations, etc.

The lifestyle changes needed to recover successfully depend upon the individual. By creating necessary lifestyle changes, relapses become more infrequent.

Organize And Participate In Sober Events

One of the most important aspects of recovery is redefining fun. Studies have shown that when someone is under stress, they may glamorize their past use and build a desire to use again.

In the early stages of substance use, using is often viewed as a positive experience and can be viewed as “fun.” Cognitive therapy can help address this misconception.

Organizing and participating in sober events can provide someone with a different view of activities that can be fun for them while being sober.

Associating these positive experiences with being sober may encourage someone not to relapse.

Monitor And Manage Triggers

Behavioral therapy can help someone explore potential triggers. The individual in recovery is also often asked to self-monitor their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors prior to use.

Once the triggers are identified, the therapist helps the individual to identify warning signs that lead to relapse, such as stress and decisions they make that begin the process of relapse.

The therapist will then teach coping skills to manage these triggers, such as assertive communication, positive self-talk, or meditation.

The therapist will meet with the individual regularly to monitor their response to triggers and prevent relapse.

Have Regular Check-Ins For Accountability

Having regular check-ins is important to confirm someone is staying sober. Sobriety can also be confirmed with sweat monitors, urinary analysis, and breathalyzers.

Individuals can also be held accountable through monitoring, involving family in the treatment process, and discussing new or ongoing triggers at check-ins.

In some cases, more drastic accountability measures may be necessary. Inpatient treatment, where someone can be monitored 24 hours a day, is sometimes necessary to hold an individual accountable.

Have A Plan In Place In Case Of Relapse

Preventing relapse involves a commitment to the process and a plan of action. Before relapse, an individual has gradual changes in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

A relapse prevention plan may help you to identify feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that can lead to relapse, a healthy way to cope with them, and people and places you are likely to use with or at.

The plan you put in place may also have people you can call when in a situation that may cause relapse or when you are experiencing cravings, things you can do to get your mind off using, and warning signs that you may relapse.

You should also have someone you can contact if you relapse to help get you into treatment as soon as possible.

Learn About Addiction Treatment And Relapse Recovery Today

If you or a loved one is seeking addiction treatment and relapse recovery, we can help.

Contact our team at Bedrock Recovery Center to learn more.

  1. Florida Court System
  2. National Library Of Medicine: Bookshelf
  3. National Library Of Medicine: Bookshelf /
  4. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  5. National Library Of Medicine: PubMed
  6. Rehab Recovery
  7. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
  8. United States Department Of Veterans Affairs
  9. Winona State University

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: November 16, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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