Relapse Prevention Strategies, Skills, & Common Triggers

Pause first when you experience these states and find ways to deal with them without turning to substances. Join the thousands of people that have called a treatment provider for rehab information. Contact Us today at Little Creek Recovery to relapse prevention skills explore your options and they will customize and tailor a treatment plan to fit your specialized needs. While the 12-step program is recommended by Alcoholics Anonymous for recovery, the 13th step can be a dangerous and predatory practice.

relapse prevention skills

Cravings can be dealt with in a great variety of ways, and each person needs as array of coping strategies to discover which ones work best and under what circumstances. Another is to carefully plan days so that they are filled with healthy, absorbing activities that give little time for rumination to run wild. Exercise, listening to music, getting sufficient rest—all can have a role in taking the focus off cravings. And all strategies boil down to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Engaging in self-care may sound like an indulgence, but it is crucial to recovery. For one, it bolsters self-respect, which usually comes under siege after a relapse but helps motivate and sustain recovery and the belief that one is worthy of good things.

Outcome Studies for Relapse Prevention

People can relapse when things are going well if they become overconfident in their ability to manage every kind of situation that can trigger even a momentary desire to use. Or they may be caught by surprise in a situation where others around them are using and not have immediate recourse to recovery support. Or they may believe that they can partake in a controlled way or somehow avoid the negative consequences.

A denied user is in chronic mental relapse and at high-risk for future relapse. Clinical experience has shown that everyone in early recovery is a denied user. The goal is to help individuals move from denied users to non-users. Denied users will not or cannot fully acknowledge the extent of their addiction.

Substance Abuse Relapse

When people don’t understand relapse prevention, they think it involves saying no just before they are about to use. But that is the final and most difficult stage to stop, which is why people relapse. If an individual remains in mental relapse long enough without the necessary coping skills, clinical experience has shown they are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol just to escape their turmoil. In collaboration with the individual, document their potential triggers, early warning signs and coping skills on a relapse prevention plan. This plan should reflect what you have discussed together and worded in a manner that is easy for the individual to understand. Writing it down so that they can take it home and easily access it will increase the likelihood that they will use the plan should they need it.

  • While patients may be strong-willed and highly motivated to maintain sobriety, they will need all of the help to overcome addiction, from both personal and professional circles.
  • Therefore, on the one hand, individuals expect that using will continue to be fun, and, on the other hand, they expect that not using will be uncomfortable.
  • Approach oriented participants may see themselves as more responsible for their actions, including lapse, while avoidance-based coping may focus more on their environment than on their own actions14.
  • Think of the consequences that would occur if you used vs. if you did not use.

I like to tell patients that a simple test of complete honesty is that they should feel “uncomfortably honest” when sharing within their recovery circle. This is especially important in self-help groups in which, after a while, individuals sometimes start to go through the motions of participating. In late stage recovery, individuals are subject to special risks of relapse that are not often seen in the early stages. Clinical experience has shown that the following are some of the causes of relapse in the growth stage of recovery.

Physical Illness Relapse

But in the repair stage of recovery, it is not unusual for individuals to feel worse temporarily. They must confront the damage caused by addiction to their relationships, employment, finances, and self-esteem. They must also overcome the guilt and negative self-labeling that evolved during addiction. Clients sometimes think that they have been so damaged by their addiction that they cannot experience joy, feel confident, or have healthy relationships [9].

Joining a self-help group has been shown to significantly increase the chances of long-term recovery. The combination of a substance abuse program and self-help group is the most effective [22,23]. They are caused by insufficient coping skills and/or inadequate planning, which are issues that can be fixed [8].

Clinical experience has shown that this stage usually starts 3 to 5 years after individuals have stopped using drugs or alcohol and is a lifetime path. Addiction is a brain disease and, as such, may involve disruptions to certain brain circuits and neural processes as a result of chronic drinking and/or drug use. Pathways involved in how a person feels pleasure and processes rewards, memory, and decision-making can be altered through substance abuse.

Relapse Prevention is considered among the most important clinical innovations in the substance use disorder treatment and recovery field, and continues to be one of the most widely practiced. When clinicians and scientists refer generally to CBT for substance use disorder, it is often Marlatt’s RP model or some related approach to which they are referring. You’ll find that your clients have more success avoiding relapse when they have a solid plan to deal with triggers, temptation, and all the other challenges that come with sobriety. A good relapse prevention plan will help your client recognize when they are at risk, and it will give them several ways to navigate these experiences successfully. A relapse prevention plan is used to help keep a person from using a substance after they have decided to quit.

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