Anyone who struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction may need to participate in an addiction treatment program. These programs are designed to help addicts overcome their addiction, cravings, and work through issues that led them to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place.
There are many people who can successfully overcome their addiction and never relapse. However, there is always a chance of relapsing, even after leaving an addiction rehab center program. It is a matter of the recovery work you do, how you handle obstacles and your day-to-day schedule as well. Many triggers could come up that lead to a relapse. This is why it is so essential to have a relapse prevention plan in place before leaving rehab. You should then utilize and update that plan as needed when you go home.
What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A relapse prevention plan is a plan to help recovering addicts keep themselves clean and sober. It can include a wide range of things including coping skills, trigger management, support network lists, a treatment plan, a list of meetings, stress management, and much more. The plan is put into place to help recovering addicts stick to the road of sobriety and recovery. Everyone’s relapse prevention plan should fit their own needs and wants in recovery. A plan that works for one recovering addict might not work for someone else in recovery.
How Common are Relapses in Addiction Recovery?
It is important to know that relapses are common in addiction recovery. This isn’t said to scare you. It is just a fact and the more prepared you are, the lower your chances of relapsing will be. Sometimes recovering addicts just have a slip, which means they used once and got themselves back on track. A relapse means continued use of drugs or alcohol after staying clean and sober for a length of time. However, even a slip indicates something isn’t going as it should in your recovery.
Generally, it is said that the six months after someone gets clean and sober is when the highest chance of relapsing occurs. Due to this fact, it is essential you create a relapse prevention plan and stick with it. If you have already relapsed, get back into addiction treatment and try again. You may just need to make different changes.
What Factors Lead to Relapsing?
There are many things that could lead someone to relapsing which is why a relapse prevention plan should be an active part of your recovery. If you know what situations, environments, people, feelings or other things would trigger you to use again, you can prevent those as much as possible. Some of the main factors that could lead to relapsing are the following:
Mental or Emotional Health Problems: If you are experiencing anxiety, stress, high levels of anger, depression or even becoming angry a lot, you are increasing your risk of relapsing. You might start using again to cover up those feelings and emotions. Don’t let that happen. Get in control over your emotions and mental health. See a therapist, talk to a friend or do some stress management techniques.
Peer Pressure: If you are getting pressured by friends, family members or others too drink or use drugs again, this greatly increases your chances of relapsing. Some people may think it is no big deal if they ask you to have a drink with them, but it is. This gets inside your head and with time it can push you to your limit. If you have peer pressure in your recovery, it may be time to stop spending as much time around those people.
Parties or Holiday Events: Yes, even positive times in your life could lead to relapsing. When you are at parties such as wedding anniversaries or graduations, you may be around others who are drinking or doing drugs. Many holidays events in some families include alcohol as well. If you are uncomfortable being in these situations, be sure to turn down the invitation to the event. You are not required to go if it is putting your sobriety at risk.
It can be tough to keep all the triggers managed at the same time. However, when you get most of the control over your triggers, you have a much lower chance of relapsing. If you want to protect your sobriety and recovery, make a list of your triggers and try to avoid them if at all possible. Later in your recovery, you can go with a sober buddy into these situations for a small length of time, to get used to them without using. However, that is not required at all, if you don’t feel comfortable.
How Do You Recognize if Your Sobriety is at Risk?
One part of preventing a relapse is recognizing when your sobriety is at risk. If you can recognize when this is starting to happen, you can make changes before relapsing. Some of the most common signs that someone’s sobriety may be at risk are the following:
Going into places where you used to do drugs or drink
Allowing drugs or alcohol into your home
Isolating from your support network
Thinking about drinking and using drugs
Stopping therapy sessions, treatment programs before the recommended time and stopping addiction recovery meetings
Feeling like you don’t need any more help
Arguments with loved ones
Setting unrealistic goals
Abrupt changes in your daily schedule
Continuous tough feelings such as stress, anxiety and depression
Feeling bored often
Not dealing with issues in your life
Not having a structure to your life
Tough life experiences such as the death of a loved one or trauma of some sort
Thinking about drinking or using drugs just once
Dealing with physical or emotional pain
These are some of the most common things that put a recovering addict’s sobriety at risk. If you can recognize when your sobriety is at risk, you can make any necessary changes to prevent relapsing. Remember, if you aren’t sure but you are feeling uncomfortable, ask someone for help. If you have already relapsed, don’t be afraid to go back to a rehab center.
What Tips Can Help You to Create the Best Relapse Prevention Plan?
If you want to increase your chances of staying clean and sober, getting support is one of the first things you should do. Having a support network of at least 5 people increases those chances tremendously. From there, you should have coping skills for dealing with tough emotions, have activities to help keep your stress levels low, know how to manage higher risk environments, plans for handling cravings and most importantly, go to therapy for as long as you need.
Being in recovery from an addiction is not always the easiest thing to do, in fact, that is rare for it to be easy. If you have ever heard “everything worthwhile in life takes work”, you should relate that to recovery and sobriety. It is so important to have a relapse prevention plan and keep altering that plan as needed to fit your lifestyle at any given time. If you need help to create this plan, there are many professionals who would be willing to assist you. There are addiction recovery sponsors and other recovering addicts who could help as well.