Relapse Prevention Strategies
Triumphing over addiction is a praiseworthy success that should never be diminished. However, some make the error of considering their initial defeat of the disease to be the end of their struggles. In actuality, the battle is never finished, and the disease is never exterminated. The possibility of addiction returning in the form a relapse is always there.
A relapse is what happens when someone who has gone through rehabilitation and has recovered from addiction to the point of maintained sobriety returns to continued substance abuse. A relapse is not a single occurrence; it’s is a return to behavior cycles that were previously overcome.
While relapse is an undeniable setback, it should not be considered a failure of treatment or recovery. Due to the physical changes caused by addiction, relapse should be considered a return of symptoms much like a cancerous tumor. Relapses are common among addicts.
It can be very hard to prevent a relapse. To do so, you must take a realistic and strategic approach. There are prevention strategies available to avoid relapsing. However, you must set expectations, be familiar with the nature of relapses, and have a plan in case relapses do occur.
Triggers to Avoid
The first strategy for relapse prevention is avoiding situations that could trigger a relapse. While there are many situations with the potential to cause a relapse, common triggers to avoid include the following:
- Avoid Rushing Towards Goals: Many make the mistake of rushing to complete their goals. Feeling impatience is a well-documented relapse trigger. This occurs when you expect to lead a completely fulfilling and rewarding like as soon as you overcome addiction.
- Avoid Expectations of Rapid Improvement: To expect rapid life improvements is to head down the path to relapsing. This occurs when you expect your hard work to translate into vast gains in your personal and professional ventures. If you begin to feel improperly rewarded, the potential for a relapse increases.
- Avoid Exposing Yourself to Drug or Alcohol Use: You may feel strong enough to be around the substances you once abused. This is often a mistake. This overconfidence in your sobriety has the potential to trigger a relapse.
- Avoid Feeling Sorry for Yourself: Self-pity can lead to a relapse. Such feelings can make you feel hopeless and begin self-loathing. Once this occurs, a relapse is likely.
- Avoid Succumbing to Stress: Stress is an unavoidable part of sobriety you cannot avoid. You can, however, misunderstand stress. There is a misconception about stress that it only arises from challenging or negative situations. However, stress can also arise from positive situations like a celebrating a year of sobriety. Whether positive or negative, feelings of continued stress can lead to a relapse.
Relapse Treatment Strategies
If relapse does occur, it is important that it is treated immediately and appropriately. Relapse treatment must be approached differently than relapse prevention programs. Relapse treatment programs look to further address the root of addiction. They are the best strategy to treat a relapse. Common relapse treatments include programs that:
- Analyze Your Genetic Predisposition to Addiction: This method can be effective in removing some of the shame and self-loathing you may associate with your addiction.
- Change Your Belief System in Regards to Addiction: This is meant to relieve you of underlying negative beliefs you may hold towards your personal This is done by further demonstrating that addiction is a disease.
- Address Compulsive Behaviors: If you become more aware of your compulsions, you are more likely to address them.
- Breaks Down Barriers You Have Towards 12-Step Programs: If you hold reservations towards 12-step programs, you are not alone. Many feel the same reservations. However, such programs have proven effective in treating addiction.
Strategies to Prevent Future Relapses
After the initial relapse, you should be more equipped to prevent future relapses. With that being said, you must accept that your relapse was a normal occurrence among former addicts and not a massive failure. After doing so, you can embrace your sobriety and prevent future relapse by:
- Strategy One: Take it Day by Day: Don’t make the mistake of dwelling in the past. This works in two ways. In one way, you will not focus on your past failures. In the other, you will not glorify your past exploits with substance abuse.
- Strategy Two: Become Proactive: If you can stay proactive, you can avoid dwelling on the negative aspects of your life. Be proactive by communicating often with a sponsor or a therapist
- Strategy Three: Maintain a Sleep Schedule: Obvious enough, but sleep is vital in maintaining a healthy state of mind. This is especially true for addicts, as sleep patterns have likely been in ruin for years before recovery. Get the sleep needed to lead a healthy life.
Strategy Four: Remain in Therapy: After a relapse, it is of the utmost importance to stay in therapy. This is especially true if you were not in engaging in therapy at the time of the relapse. Therapy will help you deal with triggers in a manageable way.