People who have a history of alcohol or drug addiction know that getting clean is tough, but staying sober tougher. Addiction affects 23 million Americans, and it costs society billions each year. Because returning to the addict way of life is a possibility, you should plan specific ways to prevent relapse. This involves understanding the challenges you face. Find out why the relapse prevention plan is one of the most crucial components of recovery.
When you make a relapse prevention plan, it is important that you recognize and respond to the early warning signs of relapse. Before things spin out of control, you can stop relapse quickly. Statistics show that two-thirds of people who finish rehab and attempt recovery will relapse. This does not mean that rehab has failed, however. When in recovery, you should address your problems and devise a plan. This way, you can better face the cravings and urges when they do occur.
How to Create a Plan
A relapse prevention plan is a vital part of addiction treatment, and it is also used in 12-step groups and support groups. Counselors and rehab workers will help you go through the planning process because others may see things you do not realize about yourself. Other people are a good source of support during addiction treatment. A written relapse prevention plan can act as an inspiration and guide as you go through addiction treatment. The plan can be shared with other recovering addicts and is a valuable tool when you feel like you are on the verge of relapse.
Here are the steps to creating the relapse prevention plan:
- Examine your use history and previous relapses – Once you are sober and stabilized, start the relapse prevention plan by looking at every stage of your life. Examine patterns of using alcohol and drugs, examine your compulsive behaviors, and consider consequences. It helps to identify why you relapsed, so you can feel more in control of your recovery.
- Know warning signs and ways to manage them – The warning signs of relapse are red flags to you. These are signs and symptoms that occur right before actual physical relapse. These include anxiety, moodiness, fantasizing about drug use, loneliness, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, not going to meetings, avoiding clean friends, seeking out using friends, and planning your drug use. It often starts with subtle warning signs, but then, full-blown drug use occurs.
- Have a support network – If you don’t have supportive people in your life, get some. Build a team of people you can depend on, vent to, and discuss your problems. These could be family, friends, counselors, therapists, support group members, or clergymen. It is important that you remove yourself from people that trigger drug use.
- Have an emergency relapse plan – This involves a detailed plan for yourself when you feel like using drugs and/or alcohol. Strategies include authorizing someone to step forward and place you into treatment should you relapse. This could include daily 12-step meetings, talking with counselors, or starting outpatient therapy.
- Prioritize your overall well-being – Make yourself a priority. Plan lifestyle changes that will improve your mental and physical health. Start exercising, learn to prepare healthy meals, and add yoga or meditation to your daily routine. These things help to control stress and combat boredom. Many mental health problems often co-occur with substance use, so see a therapist to work through your problems.