The saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Without a doubt, this saying applies to anyone leaving rehab after addiction treatment. After all the hard work of recovery from addiction, no one wants to relapse. Therefore, relapse prevention plans are needed for those in rehab. You should create a plan while in treatment so you don’t leave rehab without one.
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What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
Relapse prevention plans are essential for success in recovery. These plans provide structure for you to consider your triggers and cravings while you reflect on why you entered treatment in the first place. In other words, your plan will help you understand your addiction while you create a useful tool for recovery.
Remember that addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), you have about a 40-60% chance of relapsing at some point in your recovery. However, you can reduce your risk by preparing for a relapse.
Why Are Relapse Prevention Plans Important?
Relapse prevention plans are important for long-term success in recovery for many reasons. Overall, these plans help you thoroughly understand the nature of your addiction and recovery.
In addition, relapse prevention plans are important because:
- You need to consider your addiction and triggers in-depth to write these plans
- They help you define your cravings and urges so that they don’t sneak up on you
- These plans help you identify both toxic and healthy relationships in your life
- Relapse prevention plans outline healthy activities to manage stress
- You can enhance your awareness of the underlying causes of your addiction
- Your plan will help you remember why you choose recovery in the first place
- Your plan will also help your support team recognize when things are going wrong
- Lastly, these plans should also include what other people can do to help when you do relapse
Furthermore, relapse prevention plans help you confront the reality of addiction. As you recover, you might start to minimize your drug or alcohol use in the past. When you get some distance, you might forget how bad things were or what is at stake. Above all, relapse prevention plans will capture the effects of addiction during early recovery to hold you accountable for your recovery.
What Should a Relapse Prevention Plan Consist of?
Relapse prevention plans should consist of key elements to help you reflect on your addiction and treatment. While creating this plan during rehab is critical, also remember that you might learn new things throughout recovery. Therefore, you can go back to your plan to add new things or revise existing elements.
Your plan should consist of the following elements:
#1. Relapse Triggers
Triggers are the people, places, and things that cause negative feelings and cravings. For instance, you might think about drug use around friends associated with using. Also, you could be triggered by places, like bars or areas where you purchased illegal drugs.
In addition to these external triggers, you could have internal triggers. These triggers could be thoughts or feelings that you would self-medicate by using or drinking. For example, these could be emotions like anger, sadness, and even boredom.
#2. Understand and Manage Cravings
Next, you need to understand and manage your cravings. Relapse can sneak up on you, so be sure to define what cravings feel like for you. Therefore, identify what happens in your body and mind when you have cravings. In other words, think about your thoughts, bodily sensations, and emotions to define what a craving looks like for you.
When you know you have a craving, you need to manage this feeling. Cravings often pass after some time, so you might need to find healthy distractions in the meantime. For example, you could call a supportive friend, exercise, or focus on a hobby.
#3. List of Supportive People
Healthy relationships are crucial in recovery. Therefore, you should keep a list of people you can count on when things aren’t going well. You want to have a list of supportive friends and family members, along with contact information in relapse prevention plans. This list can also include professionals, like therapists or recovery coaches, as well as peers in recovery, such as sponsors.
#4. Proactive Strategies
Relapse prevention plans also need to include proactive strategies. While having a list of coping skills to distract you when you have cravings, you also want to prevent cravings as best as you can. Thus, you want to think about all the things that have helped you so far in recovery.
Proactive strategies include things like:
- Peer support groups
- Exercise routines
- Weekly therapy
- Stress management
These strategies should be structured into your daily life. For instance, you might take a weekly class at the gym or regularly volunteer at an animal shelter. Proactive strategies often become the healthy activities that you do to make your life meaningful and healthy.
#5. Plan for a Relapse
While these plans are meant to prevent relapse, you also need to consider what will happen if you do relapse. In this way, you can have some peace of mind that your support team will know what to do if you struggle again.
Consider some of the following:
- What treatment centers have helped me in the past?
- What should each member of my support team do to help?
- How will others know that I’ve relapsed?
- What are the negative consequences of addiction?
Lastly, be sure to share your plan with your support team. That way, you can let them know how to best support you to both prevent and treat a relapse.
Who Helps Me Build a Relapse Prevention Plan?
Anyone who supports your recovery can help you build relapse prevention plans. You want to create your plan while in rehab with your treatment team. In addition, you can include family members, peer support, and professionals to build your plan.
Above all, remember that you should revisit your plan often. For example, after treatment, you might get a sponsor in a support group. You can add this person to your plan, and they can also help you review what you have. Keeping your plan fresh will also help you focus on looking for new ways to commit to your recovery goals.
Relapse Prevention at Phoenix Rising Recovery in Palm Desert, CA
Relapse prevention plans are part of any successful addiction treatment program. At Phoenix Rising Recovery in Palm Desert, CA, we will help you create relapse prevention plans during your treatment program so you can rise above your addiction. Visit our admissions page today to learn more.