If you return to substance use after a prolonged period of abstinence, you have experienced a relapse. Though relapses are most common in the early stages of recovery, they can happen to people with years of sobriety under their belts, due to the way alcohol and drug use alters brain chemistry.
Relapse rates in addiction recovery are between 40 and 60%, which is approximately the same as what people with other manageable chronic diseases experience. A relapse doesn’t equal failure; however, it does mean you need to change your approach to recovery. What should an effective relapse prevention plan include?
1. Reflect on Your Reasons
Why did you drink or use drugs before you sought treatment? Was it an outlet for stress relief? Were you trying to manage the symptoms of a mental health disorder like depression? Did you hope to escape from the realities of the world? Identifying your usage patterns can help you pinpoint what caused you to develop a dependency on your substance of use. If you started using or drinking again, it is also helpful to think back on the circumstances or series of events that sparked your relapse. Gaining a sense of self can give you a valuable tool to fight relapse and allow you to seek help before you lose control.
2. Identify Your Stressors
Stressors include anything that can spur a return to substance abuse. These can be situational or involve specific people, memories and events. Some examples of things that might induce cravings for your former substance of use are a hectic day at work, driving past a bar you used to frequent or even seeing people drink or use drugs on TV. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to totally control your environment, so it’s smart to outline specific strategies that can help you manage these situational and environmental cues as they arise. You can ask a counselor or fellow members of your recovery group for suggestions to get you started.
3. Have Sober Supporters
Feeling isolated and alone is a common problem associated with addiction. To avoid this, surround yourself with positive people who understand and support your sobriety goals. These should be family members or friends you trust. For example, people you’ve met in addiction treatment can become excellent additions to your team of sober supporters. Review your plan with them and ensure they’re willing to help get you back on track if you feel yourself in danger of slipping back into old habits. Ask if they’re OK with helping you research inpatient treatment facilities or driving you to therapy appointments as needed.
4. Discover Healthy Self-Care Strategies
Making daily efforts to prioritize your overall well-being has multiple benefits, including keeping you accountable to a schedule, helping you manage stress and improving your self-esteem. When you exercise regularly and set aside time for hobbies like learning a musical instrument, you will be a happier, healthier person.
A Focus on Relapse Prevention
The best way to develop a relapse prevention plan is to work with a therapist or sponsor. At Spearhead Lodge, our goal is to empower our clients for lifelong sobriety. Long-term men’s-only addiction treatment will equip you with the life skills and coping strategies necessary to live a substance-free lifestyle and have fun in addiction recovery. To learn more, please reach out to us today.