In order to help people to stay in recovery for longer periods, it is helpful to identify and reduce the risks associated with relapse overall. They often refer to this as a relapse prevention plan.
What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A relapse prevention plan is helpful for anyone who needs guidance in long-term sobriety recovery. It’s beneficial in helping you map and outline ways to recognize and combat personal behaviors to help keep you on track to avoid relapse. It is usually a document written alongside your treatment team that provides you with actions to take in responding to cravings and triggers.
When relapse occurs it isn’t normally a knee-jerk event. Usually, it is made up of a three-part process, which includes:
- Physical relapse
- Mental relapse
- Emotional relapse
When a relapse prevention plan is in place, it is possible to become aware of and act on certain emotions and events taking place. This in turn can help you to avoid a physical relapse as this is generally the stage in which the person in recovery may return to substance use.
Top Steps in Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan
It is more beneficial to walk through creating a relapse prevention plan with a substance abuse counselor. You can make a relapse prevention plan on your own, but may struggle more doing it this way.
Relapse plans do not have to be written documents and instead can be verbalized. However, having it as a written document can be more beneficial in having a better clearer outline of what steps to take if a relapse is on the horizon.
No matter which way you choose to have your relapse plan, whether verbally or written, it’s important to consider the following items:
1. Gauging Your History with Substances
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself when you work on developing your relapse prevention plan:
- Did specific people factor into the times you used?
- What thought patterns make you more likely to use?
- Was there certain times that you were more prone to substance use?
- Why did you relapse before?
Determining what factors caused a relapse in the past is vital in avoiding them in the future.
2. Discovering Any Signs That Could Lead to Relapse
Come up with possible scenarios that could lead to relapse and list the warning signs as well. For some, people begin to think, feel, and behave differently when relapse is approaching. Creating a list of warning signs can give another person insight. Sharing the list with your treatment team can also provide much-needed information to help prevent relapse in the future.
3. Making an Action Plan
Creating an action plan for what to do instead of partaking in drugs and alcohol may seem basic but is very beneficial. For example, going through a relationship breakup, instead of drinking, instead call a friend to discuss your pain and frustration.
The more specific your action plan is the better you will be in avoiding a relapse. The more details in your plan, as to who you will call, what you will ask of them, what meetings you will attend, or if this means you will return to rehab. This all helps you stay on track and keeping the people who are involved in your plan aware that they are involved in your action plan is key to success too! They need to be aware and accept that you’ll need their assistance.
Things to Include in a Relapse Prevention Plan Template
Each individual is unique as well as their relapse prevention plan. With this being said, there are certain components that are beneficial to include:
Relapse triggers are things that can lead to abusing substances again. It can be people, places, and things. You might not be able to list all your triggers. In addition, sometimes you won’t know about a trigger until you cross it, which is normal. Some questions that can be helpful in identifying triggers are:
- What are the places where I used drugs that could be a trigger for me?
- What are some addictive thoughts that could cause me to relapse?
- Who could I see that would remind me of drug use?
- Do anniversaries or times of year trigger relapse?
- What feelings are linked to relapse?
- What should I do if I can’t avoid the things that are triggering me?
2. Managing Cravings
When one feels like they wish they could use drugs or alcohol again it is often called a “craving.”
Cravings can sometimes be very intense. They can be attached to other sensory emotions and memories. Oftentimes, it can lead one to relapse.
If you experience such cravings try to compile a list of ways to distract yourself. Even having a list of people who you can call to talk to can be highly beneficial until the craving has passed.
3. Preventative Tools
Think back to what has been helpful to you in the past. Compile a list of tools that has been overall helpful in your recovery. Some examples of such tools might include:
- Continuing programs and support through online rehab
- Attending a support meeting
- Writing a gratitude list
- Writing a list of consequences should you relapse
Contacting people who are supportive in your life can have a positive impact on reducing your cravings and preventing relapse.
4. Support Groups and Programs
If you feel like you are facing a possible relapse. You might want to consider revisiting and taking the time to invest in support groups. 12-step programs can be beneficial in helping people establish a sponsor. A sponsor is a person who can help give you personal insight and suggestions. Oftentimes they work one on one with you in helping you maintain your sobriety.
There are support groups that do follow models that are outside a 12-step program. No matter what your experiences are with support groups, don’t let a bad experience ruin all support groups for you. Support groups can be helpful support for recovery and there are many different types and kinds of support groups out there in the community. It’s good to connect with new people who understand the struggles of addiction to know you are not alone.
5. Lifestyle Changes
Amending the damage addiction has caused in your life is a part of relapse prevention.
Separating these damages into areas like legal issues, relationship issues, financial issues, and educational issues can help get a grip and regain insight as to why you decided to get sober, to begin with. Gives you the motivation to make more positive choices to take control of your life.
As you continue on in your journey with sobriety, you may want to look back at your relapse prevention plan. Your plan may need to change and develop over time, as well as the people that are within your support system. No matter what, whenever you make adjustments to your relapse recovery prevention plan, always be honest with yourself so it can be a success.
Getting Help Creating Your Relapse Prevention Plan Today
Southeast Addiction Center wants to help you discover a new life by offering you to get the help that you need to overcome your addiction. Located in Atlanta, Georgia with another additional location in Nashville, Tennessee. We ensure each client receives the tools needed to live a life without addictive substances. We offer many treatments and service options in helping treat substance abuse addictions. In addition, as part of our treatments and programs, we include a detailed custom tailored relapse treatment prevention plan.
Contact us today to start your recovery and relapse prevention plan.