Relapse prevention skills are a vital part of substance use disorder recovery. It allows people who have been through treatment for an addiction to remain sober. And, keeps them safe from the danger of relapse. Find out more about some of the most essential relapse prevention skills an individual can have and utilize to protect their recovery.
What is Relapse?
Basically, relapse is reverting back to substance use after time spent sober in treatment. It can happen any time after treatment, whether it’s a few days or even a few years later. Anyone who is in recovery is at risk of relapse. But, relapse isn’t just the simple act of using an addictive substance after refraining from use for a certain period of time. Relapse is actually a process that occurs before the act of actually using. So, relapse prevention is about identifying the process of relapse before the act of using actually happens. And, getting support and help when this process is identified so that sobriety and recovery can be protected.
The Dangers of Relapse
Unfortunately, relapse is one of the most dangerous things about substance use disorder. In many cases, relapsing leads to fatality because of a number of reasons. This includes the fact that after being in recovery, a person’s drug tolerance diminishes. And, when a person relapses, they are more likely to use the amount of their drug of choice that they previously did before getting help through treatment. This means that they no longer have tolerance and have a higher chance of overdosing, which can lead to fatalities. Because of this increased danger, relapse is something that everyone in recovery needs to be aware of. And, needs to implement relapse prevention skills in order to overcome and protect sobriety.
Some Things That Can Trigger the Process of Relapse
There are some things that can lead to the triggering of the relapse process. Different people have different relapse triggers, so it’s important for every individual in recovery to identify what may be a relapse trigger in their life. This way, they can actively avoid these triggers. Some examples of common relapse triggers include:
- being around people who use or you used to use with
- being in places that you used to use in
- other mental health issues like depression or anxiety
- negative emotions (shame, guilt, regret, anger, worry, etc.)
- losing a loved one (relationship breakup/divorce, death of loved one or pet, etc.)
Some Relapse Prevention Skills You Can Adopt
While you can’t prevent ever experiencing any relapse triggers, you can work to implement relapse prevention skills in case you do run into triggers. Some helpful relapse prevention techniques include:
- do something physical. Exercising and working out the body can help to improve mood management and also give your mind something else to focus on besides the craving to use drugs or alcohol.
- eat healthily. Giving your body the proper nourishment it needs to function at its best can help your body and mind better regulate emotions.
- engage in mindfulness activities. Mindfulness can help you to remain in the present moment and focus on your sobriety goals – keeping them a priority. When you’re dealing with thoughts of relapse or relapse triggers, practice mindfulness techniques like meditation, yoga, or journaling.
- remember your goals. When you’re in a tough situation, it can help to remember what your goals for recovery are. When you remind yourself of the bigger picture, it can help you to come back to a motivational mindset and move forward.
- talk to someone for support. Reach out to people in your recovery community or support group that are on the same page as you about recovery goals. Being able to express your feelings and what you’re going through with someone who understands can be a big support.
- get help. If you’re struggling with the process of relapse, it may be time to get professional help. Talk to your supportive treatment community, like Willow Place for Women, to get the help you need to overcome relapse.