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How Does One Prevent Relapse After Recovery From an Addiction?

Drug relapse prevention is an important program that helps those in recovery work through potential risk factors relating to potential relapse.

What is Relapse?

Recovering from a substance use disorder takes time, patience, and an understanding that treatment is not always a linear process. During treatment, individuals may find themselves struggling to cope with day-to-day life. Over time, this can lead to them falling back into previous behaviors, including substance use. Utilizing a drug relapse prevention plan can help you prevent relapse risks.

Relapse can occur for many different reasons and does mean that someone has failed. Drug relapse prevention is an important part of maintaining treatment and recovery.

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How Common is Drug Relapse?

Relapse is more common than you may think. In fact, relapse happens to anywhere from 40-60% of patients undergoing treatment, and it may happen at any point during the recovery process.1
Even with treatment, it is possible for there to be instances where slip-ups occur. When you or a loved one experience relapse, it can feel like you’re entirely alone and that your treatment isn’t working. However, drug relapse is a normal part of treatment. 

Importance of Drug Relapse Prevention

One of the main reasons that it may be difficult to recover from addiction is due to symptoms of addiction and detox. Learning about drug relapse prevention can help an individual mitigate these symptoms and work through any issues relating to detox.2

What is Relapse Prevention?

Many people have tried seeking recovery on their own, only to relapse and feel like they’re unsure of where to go from there. Receiving information about relapse prevention can help individuals seek professional help for their addiction and reduce relapse rates.3

Relapse prevention is a series of treatments, methods, and goals all centered on long-term recovery. While psychotherapy and medications focus on treating addiction at the moment, relapse prevention seeks lasting results by helping the patient identify and work through potential risk factors.

What Are Common Relapse Risks?

Relapse often occurs as a result of potential risk factors. These may include:
  • Stress
  • Easy access
  • Revisiting negative connections
  • Social isolation
  • Illness
  • Major life transitions
  • Boredom

Stages of Relapse

For many, it may appear as if relapse occurs in a single moment of physical use. However, on a scientific level, you’ll actually be surprised to learn that relapse is a longer process that occurs in three different stages. It often affects you mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Emotional Relapse

The first stage of relapse is emotional. This subtle stage may not even feel like relapse at first, and it may not be noticeable to anyone else. Someone undergoing an emotional relapse most likely won’t even be thinking about substance use. Instead, they’ll be struggling with daily stress and frustration, as well as navigating their emotions and impulses.

Mental Relapse

Mental relapse is when the individual is thinking about substance use but hasn’t relapsed physically. Signs of mental relapse can include fantasizing about substance use and thinking fondly about their history in regard to drug abuse.

Physical Relapse

Physical relapse is the most overt stage of drug relapse, as it involves physical use. At this point, the individual will have returned to using substances. This may seem like it would bring the individual relief after dealing with the effects of emotional and mental relapse, but it can actually cause them to feel shame and guilt. This can make recovery more difficult as they try to navigate these negative feelings.

Why Are Relapse Prevention Skills Important?

Drug relapse prevention skills are important because they can reduce the risk of relapse while also teaching patients lasting techniques and methods that can be beneficial for overall mental health.

When it comes to learning more about drug relapse prevention, it’s important to know about the most beneficial methods. These can help to recenter your focus during treatment and prevent the stages of relapse. A few key skills include:

Understanding Why Abuse Starts

Substance use disorders can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from trauma, environmental factors, and genetics. Undergoing treatment for factors like trauma can be beneficial in drug relapse prevention.4

Learning How to Avoid Risk Factors

One of the symptoms of withdrawal is cravings due to factors such as boredom or withdrawal symptoms. These can be physical or psychological. By learning to avoid temptations and work through cravings, it can make continuing treatment and avoiding relapse easier.

Knowing When to Seek Help

There are few words more powerful than “help.” For many people, they may feel as if they’re alone on their recovery journey. However, this isn’t true. Your support system, from your loved ones to your healthcare providers, are there to guide you and provide the care you need. Learn when and how to ask for help, and it can make a significant difference in your recovery journey.

Learning the Risk Factors

Knowledge is the key to recovery. When it comes to drug relapse prevention, make sure to focus on learning what exactly is at stake. Substance use can cause a variety of health problems, those of which recovery can help reverse and prevent.

Leading a Well-Balanced Life

Lastly, it’s important to take care of both your mind and body during treatment. By getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and eating a nutritious diet, you’ll find that your body is more prepared to handle the process of drug relapse prevention and recovery.

What to Include in a Relapse Prevention Plan

Each person’s drug relapse prevention plan will be unique to them and their needs. However, it is important to include certain elements into each plan, including:

  • Risk factors
  • How to manage cravings
  • Preventative tools
  • Support groups and programs
  • Lifestyle changes

Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

If you’re struggling with creating an effective drug relapse prevention plan, don’t worry. This is often best when done in collaboration with your therapist. If you’re looking to create a plan, schedule a session to:
  • Assess your history with drugs and alcohol
  • Determine any relapse signs
  • Establish the actions to take to avoid using substances again

Relapse Prevention Models

Along with other types of treatments geared towards substance use disorders, there are a few treatment models designed specifically for drug relapse prevention. These include:
  • Gorski-Cenaps Relapse Prevention Model
  • Marlatt’s Model of Relapse Prevention
  • Support Groups for Relapse Prevention

Get Drug Relapse Prevention Help at Ripple Ranch

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, or need help figuring out a drug relapse prevention plan, Ripple Ranch Recovery Center is here to help. Our kind and supportive staff can help you work through any questions you may have about what type of drug relapse prevention plan you should utilize, along with providing tips for aftercare and life during sobriety.
Working through substance abuse is never easy, but you do not have to go through it alone. Make sure you utilize your support network at home as well during the recovery period. Your friends and family can help provide the extra care you may need during this time.

Reach Out for Guidance and Support

Reach out to our staff at Ripple Ranch Recovery Center today for help with substance abuse disorders or mental health struggles. We will be with you every step of the way during your detox and recovery journey.