In recovery, staying sober is the most important task- the rest of your life depends on it. Relapse does happen, but you can help to prevent it by building up your relapse prevention skills. Having a plan in place to prevent a relapse can give you the upper hand so that you don’t succumb to the first temptation that comes your way. No matter how strong you think you are, a relapse can happen when you don’t expect it, for one of any number of reasons. The best thing you can do is have a counterattack plan to help thwart the relapse before it becomes an actuality.
Relapse Prevention Skills Come with Practice and Patience
As you enter treatment and recovery, you will be constantly working on your relapse prevention skills. In a sense, they are one of the biggest focuses, because the entire goal of treatment is to get you away from drugs and alcohol and help you stay sober in the long-term. Figuring out what your triggers are and how to combat them will only make you stronger in your recovery.
That being said, what are the relapse prevention skills that are most important? There are plenty, and as with everything in recovery, they are individual. However, here are some of the main ones that can apply to anyone.
- Know your triggers. When you know what sets you off, you can avoid it. Triggers can be people, places, or things. Anywhere you used to use or drink in the past can be a trigger. The same goes for people you used to get high or drunk with. Drug and alcohol paraphernalia are other examples of potential triggers. It is important to keep your distance from these things as much as possible, and in the event that you do come across them, make sure you have a plan of action to combat any urge to use.
- Have a resource for help. You need to build up your community of friends and people who will be there for you in a moment of weakness. In other words, somebody to whom you can turn in the event that you feel like you are tempted to use or drink. These people can be professionals, like a doctor or therapist. They can also be friends, as long as it is a friend who has your best interests in mind. Ideally, this would be somebody who has over a year of sobriety time and experience.
- Be aware of underlying medical conditions that could cause a relapse. It is essential that any mood disorder like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder is properly managed. When it is managed, you are much less likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. The same goes for pain management. Painkillers are often in the opioid family and can be extremely addictive. Luckily, there are alternatives that are non-habit forming.
- Keep yourself busy. An addict with an idle mind is in danger of relapse. Make sure to build up your hobbies and interests so that you always have something to occupy your time if you get bored. Keep trying new things – there are a ton of sports out there, or something as simple as knitting. Keeping your mind and hands occupied will keep you away from picking up a drug or drink.
- Learn how to recognize the initial signs of a relapse. The process of relapse happens way before a person actually picks up a drink or a drug. It can happen, for example, when anxiety begins to sink in, or when something happens to make you upset or angry, like a breakup. Reach out for help before you allow your emotions to go too far. It is much easier to stop a relapse at this stage than it is when the relapse is already underway.
Relapse prevention skills are a work in progress. In recovery, you will always experience tests and will need to keep refining your behavior as you go. The important part is that you never give up and that each time you get through something without relapsing you celebrate and acknowledge your accomplishment. Relapse is a very big reality in recovery. With some work and a positive attitude, it doesn’t need to be a part of yours too. For information about relapse prevention at Willow Place, call 1-888-65104212 today.