Addiction Recovery 101: 4 Essentials Of A Relapse Prevention Plan
Some people have a drug and/or alcohol addiction. As more individuals get addicted to these substances, adverse outcomes will surely follow. For one, it can lead to significant expenses. Second, it’s likely that their mental health will be affected. Lastly, it can impact their social life, as their friends may leave them.
For this reason, it’s vital to help them return to their former life. Though the decision to stop the addiction still depends on them, there are some things that their loved ones can do to help.
One way a person can help someone stop substance addiction is to seek help from addiction recovery centers, such as Alvarado Parkway Institute. Likewise, following a relapse prevention plan also helps. This plan helps in avoiding the use of substances again once they choose to stop their addiction. Continue reading to know four elements that can contribute to this plan.
1. Know The Three Stages Of Relapse
Many think that an addiction relapse can occur suddenly. Yet, it’s often a slow process that involves three stages. Luckily, by knowing these stages, you or your loved one can avoid using substances again. Here are more details regarding these stages:
This stage happens earlier before you experience substance cravings. Emotional relapse occurs once negative emotions start to come up again. These emotions can be in the form of anger, irritability, and anxiety. Once a person gets engulfed by these feelings, they’ll likely dismiss the coping mechanisms they learned to stop an addiction. This can set them to retake drugs or alcohol.
Mental relapse is the second stage that you should be wary of. This stage happens if you avoid acknowledging the emotions that occurred in the first stage. A warning sign of mental relapse is reminiscing the places, things, and people associated with your addiction. Other signs are enjoying the thought of using addictive substances in the past and that you can try taking just once again, as you believe you’ll be able to fight the cravings.
A physical relapse happens if you don’t take the initiative to address the two stages above. In this stage, the person has started taking some activity to retake substances. For instance, someone might enter a liquor store or chat with their former dealer again.
Eventually, you can seek help from an addiction therapist or counselor if you’re experiencing one of these relapse stages.
2. Identify Your Addiction Triggers
If you have an addiction, there are likely triggers that can motivate you to retake substances. Thus, it’s best to know these triggers so you’re more prepared to avoid them. Moving on, here are two examples of relapse triggers that you should take caution of.
Stress is a significant factor in why people go back to their addiction. For one, they use their chosen substances to cope with it. To address this issue, you must combine proper coping skills and preventive self-care, such as:
- Eating properly
- Exercising regularly
- Practicing deep breathing and mindfulness
- Sharing your issue with a trusted individual
- Seeking professional help
- Practicing muscle relaxation techniques
- Using aromatherapy
Other ways to cope with stress are engaging in activities you love and getting adequate sleep.
For many of those who are undergoing addiction recovery, forming a support system and socializing with others are hard. Some will choose to avoid this activity altogether, leaving them lonely and isolated. This shouldn’t be the case. For one, relapsing will happen more if no one is around to support them. Thus, finding a reliable friend with whom you can share your addiction struggles is crucial to avoid isolation and its related triggers.
3. Control Withdrawal Symptoms
Your relapse prevention plan can also include learning how to manage withdrawal symptoms. If you aren’t aware of ‘withdrawal,’ it’s simply the mental and physical symptoms that happen whenever a person stops or reduces their use of addictive substances.
Below are withdrawal symptoms that you should be aware of:
- Changes in mood
- Changes in appetite
- Muscle pain
If you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s best to talk to a medical specialist who may advise you to undergo medical detox. This process involves removing traces of addictive substances from your body. Likewise, other ways that you can do to manage withdrawal symptoms are to exercise, have a proper sleep schedule, and drink plenty of water, among others. This all helps in preventing relapse.
4. Choose Distracting Activities
Your thoughts may involve retaking drugs or alcohol. If this happens, it’s helpful to distract yourself through various activities. This way, you can avoid those triggering thoughts and allow them to pass. If you want to know some activities that you can implement whenever you’re thinking of using substances again, here are some of those:
- Play board games
- Watch a movie
- Listen to music
- Be creative (e.g. practice painting or embroidery)
- Write a journal
- Eat snacks
- Chew a gum
- Walk your dog
- Have dinner with your friends or loved ones
These activities can prevent relapse, as most cravings only last briefly. Often, waiting for 15 to 30 minutes will be enough to overcome thoughts and cravings related to your addictive substances.
Substance addiction is a topic that many people experience. For them, it can be hard to stop taking drugs or alcohol, especially if the addiction started long ago. That said, they must recover, as their addictive behaviors have financial, social, and health consequences.
If you have an addiction, it’s vital to know how to recover. One way to do so is to undergo rehabilitation at addiction recovery centers. Yet, if you’ve succeeded in stopping your addiction, it’s also equally crucial to know how to avoid relapse. This way, you can be consistent in your decision to be sober. To achieve such a goal, one step to take is to implement a relapse prevention plan.
A relapse prevention plan details the steps to avoid retaking substances. Some elements that this plan can have are stated in this article. Applying them all ensures you’ll remain sober, keeping your life healthier and more fulfilling.