Coming to terms with the reality of your addiction is not an easy feat in the recovery process. Neither is finding the courage to seek help. The entire process of recovery, from detox and rehabilitation to aftercare and discharge, is challenging. However, the hardest part is probably having a plan in place to prevent or respond to a relapse. Building a relapse prevention plan may feel like you are preparing for failure, but it is a necessary step in the recovery process. Otherwise, your chances of relapsing increase. Now, every relapse prevention plan is different depending on the person in recovery. However, there are some elements that exist across every plan. Here are some of them.
Build a Support System and Avoid Temptation
When you’re in recovery outside of your treatment facility, you’ll be facing temptations without your rehab team. There will be no immediately accessible therapists and professionals acting as your security blanket. You’ll be surrounded by people, places, and situations that remind you of when you used to be an addict. This kind of temptation can sabotage your sobriety if you don’t keep yourself in check. But you can’t always do that by yourself. One of the most important aspects of any good relapse prevention plan is to enlist to help of supportive people in your life who are rooting for your success and sobriety. By relying on friends and family, cutting out the bad influences, and building relationships with peers you met during rehabilitation, you’ll have a much stronger chance of staying true to your path.
Once people complete rehab and go on to continue their normal lives from before the addiction started, more often than not they get a little too comfortable with their progress. In short, they reach a sort of plateau and stop really trying. That’s when thoughts like “it’s just one drink” or “it’s just one hit” start to manifest. In order to really stay sober, you have to be dedicated to your recovery plan and your relapse prevention plan. You have to stay consciously aware that relapse can happen at any time and that there really is no such thing as “it’s just one” for a recovering addict. So, be proud of your progress, but don’t get too comfortable. Sobriety is hard work and you have to keep at it in order to keep from relapsing.
Keep a Busy, Healthy Routine
One of the most important aspects of addiction recovery is giving yourself permission to rediscover or even reinvent yourself. Addiction has taken so much of your time and your energy. Now you have the chance to take some of it back. As part of your relapse prevention plan, be sure to include a daily routine that will keep you proactive, productive and, most importantly, happy. Outside of responsibilities like work or school, you should make time to pursue your passions, expand your talents or find something worthwhile to occupy your free time. Some of the most popular activities in a relapse prevention plan include creative activities like art and writing, music, reading, sports, gardening, and volunteer work. These are some of many ways you can refocus your energy into something fun and positive that distracts from addiction.
Remember that Relapse is Not Failure
This cannot be stressed enough. The stigma surrounding drug and alcohol addiction has many people believing that addicts who relapse are somehow beyond help. But this is not the case at all. In fact, the vast majority of people in addiction recovery experience a relapse at least once. This is not a sign of failure. Do you blame a cancer patient when cancer comes back after chemo is complete? Of course not. People fail to realize that addiction is a disease of the mind, and since the brain is the most complex organ in the body, it will take numerous efforts and a long time to fully heal. Is this a guarantee that you will relapse? No, but it is certainly possible. This is why relapse prevention plans are set in place: to plan ahead in the event that a relapse takes place, as it happens more often than people care to admit. The best thing you can do in the event of a relapse is to learn from the experience, revise and follow your plan, and move forward.
Get Help Building Your Relapse Prevention Plan
Relapse may be common for those in addiction recovery, but there is always hope. Finding the right support, keeping your motivation, following a healthy routine and seeking help in the event of a relapse is just part of the process. If anything relapse should be viewed more as a humbling experience than a failure. If you’ve learned from it and grew stronger as a result, then you have not failed by any means. In addiction recovery, the only failure is in either giving up or doing nothing. At Willow Place, we believe in all of our patients, and in you. Our team will help you build a prevention plan that works for you to ensure that you can move forward without fear of failing. If you have any questions or need help getting back on track after a relapse, please contact us here or call us at 1-888-651-4212.