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Relapse Prevention Plan

An Essential Guide to Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

An Essential Guide to Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

The rehabilitation program used to treat someone with a substance abuse disorder is a carefully plotted-out process. This covers whatever is needed to get the person to stop using substances, treat the damage done by their substance abuse, and help them stay sober once the program is complete. Or at least, that’s the idea.

There are instances, however, where these rehab programs fail to keep the person sober and substance-free, as they fall by the wayside and succumb to the craving once more, diving head-first into a relapse. This is, by no means, an indicator that the rehabilitation program is faulty or inefficient. Life outside of the rehab center could just prove to be too much, fraught with triggers and temptations that wear down the person’s resistance to the point that they give in.

The relapse could also be due to several other factors, as life could truly be unpredictable at times. This is why it might be a good idea to have a relapse prevention plan ready, just in case these unpredictable factors are relapse influencers. So if you have a family member or a loved one in need of help, know more about of relapse prevention plan. So at the end this post, you’ll make an informed decision on the best treatment program that will help your loved one overcome substance abuse disorder.

What Is a Relapse and Why Does It Happen?

A relapse is a point after detoxification where the person returns to taking substances again. The National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that in 2020, relapse rates were between 40% to 60%, influenced by several factors, not the least of which is the stress and isolation brought about by the pandemic.

Relapses could be brought about by several reasons, most of which could fall into two classifications: internal factors, which mostly have to do with the person, and external factors, which account for circumstances around the person, including things beyond his or her control.

Internal Factors

Internal factors are the causes experienced by the person and can be changed by the person alone. No one can do it for them but them alone. In order to have a successful recovery journey, these voids should be filled and it must start within oneself.

1. Lack of Commitment

It’s not easy getting clean after having a substance dependency at any time. It doesn’t really matter if the drug addiction or dependency had been for a few months or even several years; detox will still hit hard, and rehab could be quite agonizing.

This is why many maintain a “just get it over with” mindset during rehab, as they simply want the ordeal to be over. This kind of mentality, however, shows a lack of actual commitment to the cause. Without real commitment, the likelihood of a relapse is greater because there is no real foundation for sobriety.

Establishing commitment is important because it builds on the determination and will to stay away from substances, regardless of the situation. The internal mindset should be committed to having a new life, not just getting over with it at the moment just to get out of rehab.

2. Lack of Self-Appreciation

Getting clean and staying sober requires a lot of work. The work that goes into it is nowhere near easy, and anyone who goes through it should have a good appreciation of being able to do it.

Self-appreciation important because it gives a sense of accomplishment to the person, for choosing to do what needs to be done and for seeing it through to completion. With self-appreciation comes with self-care. If a drug dependent person realizes that taking care of their body should be a priority, they will consider drug use as harming their body. Along the process comes with learning healthy coping skills and decreased risk of relapse.

Acknowledging the amount of work also gives a scale of what was done to overcome that bad habit. This scale is what gives pause to people who get the urge to slip back to bad habits because it makes them realize how much work they are throwing away and how much harder it would be to do all that work again.

External Factors

The external factors are the causes of relapse caused by the person’s environment. Typically, external factors are beyond a person’s control. A person can only control on how they react and cope with the external factors.

1. Lack of Support

Most people currently gripped by addiction tend to isolate themselves, although this is no indication that they would really want to be alone. Given a choice, most would welcome any help they could get to get out of the habit or even just have someone to talk to about it.

This is why a support group is a major component of rehabilitation. Knowing that others might be going through the same thing removes the feeling of isolation and helplessness. The feeling of belonging and of being accepted further strengthens a person’s determination to stay sober.

Having a support system including the family and friends should be a part of the recovery plan. Knowing that someone is there for you even through the toughest times makes life easier to navigate. Conversely, not having any support could drive the person further into depression, melancholy, and desperation, with no other option but to take substances again.

2. Lack of Preparation for Life Outside of Rehab

For people who have been into substance dependency, there is a great tendency to substitute one dependency for another. This is why sometimes some people take far longer to treat in rehab than others.

Growing so accustomed to being in rehab and treatment is not really a good thing, as this does not necessarily mean that the treatment is sticking. It could simply mean that the person is stalling on taking a responsible stance in their own life.

That’s why part of an substance abuse treatment involves relapse prevention strategies. The person should be equipped with coping strategies on how to avoid high-risk situations leading them to drug or alcohol use once again. This is the secret to long-term recovery and avoiding relapse.

What Are the Steps to Creating a Solid Relapse Prevention Plan?

It should be noted that an effective relapse prevention plan needs to be tailored to the person’s specific nature and needs. We all react differently to situations, so what could work for some might not work for others.

Nevertheless, there are a few common considerations that many could base their relapse prevention plan on, as it dwells on the more basic points of creating a well-thought-out plan relevant to being mindful.

1. Identify Your Personal Goal and Recognize It

As mentioned, the relapse prevention plan should be personal so that whatever it is that might induce relapse in the person is properly identified and noted. The general and basic goal is to stay sober, and once this is recognized, it could be easier to stick to, as opposed to the more complex goals that others might think of.

Recognizing that the goal is personal and important as this establishes that the person is the one who thought of it, is working towards it, and will ultimately benefit from staying on the course of it. Following goals set by others could cause problems because goals derive mostly from a personal nature, and trying to accomplish goals set by others might not really target what is needed.

What is the course of action can you do in this relapse prevention plan? Focus on building up your self-esteem, practice self-care, exercise, find a job, do what makes you happy. As you set your goals and make a timeline for it, you are most likely to stick to it and achieve it in your own terms.

2. Identify the Common Triggers and Be Mindful of Them

Knowing the potential stumbling points along the way to recovery could save people quite a bit of trouble, as this shows where the problem is coming from. This is far better than just having the trigger come out and catch the person completely unaware and unable to react to it properly.

Moreover, not knowing where the trigger might come from is why many say, “it just happened,” which is a popular excuse for many who relapse. People who identify their triggers in time can brace themselves against the sequence of thoughts and emotions that typically induce the need to use substances. This is called conditioning of thought patterns and knowing how to react in a positive way.

This could be likened to getting hit by something. If people already know where it is coming from, they could duck, shield themselves, or completely avoid the situation where they could get hit, thus preventing any problems at all.

3. Be Mindful of Triggers and the Reaction to Them

Even if the person is caught completely unaware of the trigger, it bears remembering that the rehabilitation process came with lessons and learnings for situations like that. These lessons teach people how to think better and react better to issues and instances that have typically forced them to use substances.

An example would be when a person goes to an event where there is the possibility of using substances, such as alcohol. Social events such as weddings and parties are almost always places where people get drunk or even high. A person could attend these gatherings but still be mindful enough not to be caught in a situation where they must drink alcohol or take drugs.

Following common mindsets in these situations that push people to take drugs or drink alcohol just to be “at the moment” is a sure way to relapse, which is why being mindful of these things could be a lifesaver.

4. Create Scenarios Where a Relapse Is Really More Trouble Than It’s Worth

There is a practice among figure-conscious people where they purchase expensive clothing or apparel that they really like, which are one size smaller than their current size or are in their current size with no allowance for further weight gain. This forces them to work their way to fit into it by losing weight or by ensuring that they do not gain any more weight, as not being able to wear the clothing is far more troublesome for them than not being able to eat their favorite fattening food.

Applied to prevent a relapse, this could also work in a similar fashion, such as competing in physical competitions where substance abuse of any kind will not only prevent the person from winning but also get them barred from even joining.

Events such as popular marathons enforce a strict drug test policy for participants, and anyone who ever had a drink the night before knows what would happen if they ran the following day. There are many other ways that a person could do to ensure that compromising their sobriety could be so costly at some level that they simply can’t even entertain the notion of trying substances again.

Just by simply thinking that you’re putting your body at risk of many kinds of health conditions by alcohol abuse such as stroke or heart disease, this gives you the motivation to not have the craving.

5. Be Mindful of the Warning Signs of Relapse

If this isn’t your first relapse, you may have the idea that you’re going through the same path again. As part of your recovery process, you should be mindful of the warning signs of relapse. To give you an idea, here are the warning signs you should look out for.

  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor family relationships
  • Feelings of anxiety & depression
  • Wanting to meet friends who used to drink and do drugs with you.

You should also be familiar with the types of relapse, these are:

  • Physical relapse: When a person starts to use drugs or drink again.
  • Emotional relapse: You’re not using drugs or not thinking about using again, however, you’re down the emotional path of pain and hurt that may lead your to relapse.
  • Mental relapse: Similar with emotional relapse. You may not be using, but you can’t stop thinking about using again.

Even though you aren’t drinking or taking drugs yet, but if you go through these relapse triggers, then you need to seek help right away. By simply having these feelings, you know that you might find yourself drinking or using drugs again.

6. Open Channels to a Community or Some Other Communication Line

The recent pandemic is held to be one of the leading causes of why many have taken to either using substances or why they allowed themselves to go into relapse. The isolation, fear, and stress of it all created a scenario where a person needed comfort, assurance, and support in dealing with what they were feeling or thinking.

Fear, confusion, and anxiety are human reactions to an event; many simply cannot avoid it. Their emotions are made far worse if the person is alone, unsure, or in some form of trouble because of what is happening. These things, however, could be dealt with better if the person had others who could offer advice, support, or even a simple conversation just to assure the person that he or she is not alone and that others are going through the same thing.

The physical distance needed to avoid an infection does not extend to not talking to others, as there are ways to communicate that will not lead to any kind of disease getting transferred. Keeping lines of communication open could keep the negative emotions away that would otherwise push a person back into old bad habits, which are just as destructive as getting infected by a contagious disease.

Find an inpatient or outpatient treatment center to help you recover. You can also opt for mental health counseling or join support groups if you need to talk to someone. What’s important is you are ready to open up yourself and seek help if you want avoid relapse.

Contact Illinois Recovery Center Today

If you have a loved one with substance use disorder or alcohol dependency who you might think is experiencing relapse, then seek help right away. Upon dealing with an addiction, it’s pivotal to have a relapse prevention plan in place.

Contact Illinois Recovery CenterContact Illinois Recovery Center Today

Illinois Recovery Center takes a no-nonsense approach to addiction treatment. Our treatment modalities have been tested and proven to work and enhance maximized effectiveness. All healthcare providers are trained and experienced to help you live a long-term sober life. Let’s get started. Contact us today!