Relapse is a danger for anyone who has embarked on the journey of recovery from substance abuse. It is generally accepted that relapse is most likely to occur in the first 90 days of recovery, but the risk remains high for the first five years. Fortunately, there are ways to protect against and prevent relapse. Relapse prevention techniques include any tool that can be used to avoid a return to using and abusing drugs and alcohol.
Prevention at the Different Stages of Relapse
Relapse is a process. There are different stages of relapse and there are tools to prevent relapse at every stage. During the emotional stage, the individual may be struggling in recovery, but not actually thinking about using. During this stage, the best tools for relapse prevention are techniques that restore emotional equilibrium. During the mental stage of relapse, the individual is thinking about drinking or using again and the urges to use may be strong. A combination of techniques will be needed at this stage to prevent a relapse. The next stage is the relapse stage — all is not lost at this point. If the individual utilizes their relapse prevention techniques, a relapse can be prevented.
The following are a list of tools and techniques that can be utilized to prevent a return to drugs and alcohol. They can be used to maintain sobriety and enhance an individual’s recovery. In most cases, a combination of these tools is best:
- 12 Step Program: The 12 Step fellowships are highly beneficial for many individuals looking to stay sober and lead a happy, healthy life in recovery. 12 Step meetings and working the steps provide addicts and alcoholics with support and new techniques for maintaining sobriety.
- Therapy:Therapy can help the individual learn new tools and strategies for relapse prevention, while also helping to restore emotional equilibrium. Discussing one’s emotions and behaviors with a trained professional can help the individual figure out how to deal with life on life’s terms.
- Group Therapy: Group therapy sessions are a great venue for support and problem solving. Discussing one’s triggers and desires to use can help the individual gain the necessary support to overcome their cravings.
- Sponsorship: If an individual is a member of a 12-step fellowship, he/she can benefit greatly from having a sponsor. The newly sober person can benefit from the knowledge and experience of someone who has been in recovery for a longer period of time. A sponsor is a great resource to turn to when things are difficult and cravings start to occur.
- Journaling: Journaling can be an incredibly useful tool in recovery. Problems often seem more manageable when they are written down and not just floating around in an individual’s head.
- Hobbies: Hobbies are an important source of stress relief. It is essential that individuals in recovery explore new interests to fill the time they spent drinking or using.
- Meditation: Meditation techniques can help with restoring emotional equilibrium in recovery. Meditation can come in the form of sitting practices, yoga, Tai Chi, etc.
Relapse prevention can be thought of as a toolbox full of different techniques for preventing a return to drugs and alcohol. The more tools that you utilize, the greater your chances are of maintaining your sobriety. Seeking support from those around you is one of the most important tools in your toolbox. That support can stem from therapy, group counseling, or 12-step fellowships — it doesn’t matter as long as you are reaching out for help.
Are you struggling with addiction, or just coming back from a relapse? If so, Recreate Life Counseling Services can help. We offer group and individual addiction counseling and support.