Addiction is a health condition affecting over 21 million Americans, often impacting many aspects of a person’s life, from physical and mental health to careers, relationships, and finances. While substance use disorder (SUD) is treatable, recovery requires more than just quitting drugs or alcohol. Indeed, inpatient care only begins the ongoing process of staying sober.
If you or someone you know has SUD, relapse prevention training can help treat your lifestyle to help you avoid returning to substance use. Keep reading to learn more about relapse prevention, including the causes and stages of relapse, as well as the importance of holistic relapse prevention techniques.
Relapse prevention includes holistic treatments and techniques that can help a person avoid returning to substance use after being drug- or alcohol-free. Maintaining sobriety long-term is an uphill battle for many, and since substance use disorders are chronic, they won’t disappear entirely following treatment.
Typically, stressors of everyday life can disrupt or derail recovery effectors. For instance, being unable to find work could cause people to turn to substances like alcohol to cope. Seeing old friends or being in places you associate with past drug use can also cause a person to relapse.
However, you must know relapsing once or twice is common and shouldn’t make you give up. It doesn’t mean that your treatment or recovery efforts have failed. Instead, relapse may indicate that the person requires additional or different forms of treatment.
Understanding relapse and your triggers are essential steps toward relapse prevention. Techniques are centered on a cognitive-behavioral approach, where people with substance use disorder identify their addiction triggers and work with a mental health professional to overcome them.
Clients and their physicians will identify situations that place the person at a greater risk for relapse. These include both internal experiences — such as positive thoughts related to substance use, and external cues — people or places the person associates with substance use. Then, the patient and clinician work together to develop strategies to address the specific high-risk situations. Relapse prevention can also involve building healthy habits like exercise or therapeutic art to treat the person’s overall health.
Addiction recovery is often a lifelong process that people who are drug or alcohol-free work on for the long term. Through effective coping skills, clients can increase their confidence to handle challenging situations without drugs or alcohol.
Humans are complex — ultimately, relapse prevention aims to identify the deeper problems contributing to a person’s drug or alcohol use and establish methods to help them avoid returning to substances.
The following are some of the essential benefits of relapse prevention education:
Relapse prevention education can help prevent overdose after treatment ends. It’s not uncommon for people who complete a treatment program to return to substances, though this behavior comes with a high risk of overdose as the client’s tolerance is often much lower than before treatment. In 2020, there were nearly 92,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States. Relapse prevention techniques help avert overdoses to keep you safe.
Learning about the causes of your drug or alcohol use can help prevent future use. You can then use relapse prevention skills to combat those triggers and keep you safe. Learning about yourself is helpful for relapse prevention and identifying any mental health conditions that could impact your well-being and contribute to substance use.
Studies show approximately 7.7 million people have co-occurring mental health disorders and SUDs. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, clients can receive treatment for health conditions that might trigger drug or alcohol use and learn coping techniques to manage symptoms. Therapy is also an excellent way to encourage growth as it helps identify emotions or thought processes that you might adjust to improve as a person.
Most relapse prevention skills include building new and healthy habits. Being able to take care of your body lends itself to healthy and sustainable relapse prevention. Relapse prevention often includes getting proper sleep and exercise, eating healthy, and participating in activities that are good for the mind and body, such as therapeutic art or being in nature.
Recreational activities can improve overall health and help people prepare for life after treatment. When you enter an addiction treatment center, you’ll create a routine focusing on self-care and activities promoting happiness and well-being.
Most importantly, relapse prevention techniques help you stay sober and achieve a happier, healthier lifestyle without substances. Healthy coping skills can help you grow and advance with a more positive, hopeful mindset.
Standard relapse prevention training has strong empirical support as a helpful intervention for substance use disorder. With its combination of structured individual therapies, support groups, and motivational interviewing, the techniques can effectively prevent or mitigate relapse.
With relapse prevention, you’ll learn strategies to obtain social support, develop a plan for enjoyable sober activities, and problem-solve for high-risk situations or relapse if it occurs. Relapse prevention training is effective because it provides the following:
While the addiction recovery process can feel isolating, you’ll find a team of addiction experts and counselors at Gateway Foundation eager to work with you. Our relapse prevention plan can help you get healthy and stay sober. When you enter our addiction treatment center, we’ll take the following steps to devise a personalized relapse prevention plan:
First, we’ll conduct an assessment to appraise your history. Our skilled counselors will determine factors that could lead to recovery stumbles. For instance, maybe you have a co-occurring mental health disorder. In this case, experts can provide a dual diagnosis and create a plan to address both diseases. A comprehensive treatment plan is essential to prevent relapse.
Next, we’ll work together to write a detailed relapse prevention plan. Essentially, we’ll map out your responses to triggering scenarios to develop effective techniques to help you in these situations.
For instance, you might plan to attend a support group meeting when feeling lonely. Similarly, you might list a friend to call in times you’re experiencing emotional pain.
Other emotional relapse prevention strategies might involve:
Next, our counselors will provide the tools you need to stay sober. You’ll also learn healthy alternatives to drugs for relapse prevention. Potential activities or hobbies you might incorporate into your routine at Gateway Foundation inpatient treatment include:
In moments when you are thinking about relapse, it’s essential to have a sobriety toolbox. You can learn these necessary tools in addiction treatment and relapse prevention training.
Lastly, we recommend aftercare services that offer a vital support resource for anyone recovering from addiction. We provide multiple options across our 16 U.S. locations, including:
Filling your sobriety toolbox with various relapse prevention strategies is our mission. Before leaving treatment, we’re dedicated to preparing you for real life. We’ll help you develop solid techniques to rely on during crisis moments. Our staff will teach you how to avoid past enablers and old places that supported your substance use. You’ll learn to meet and maintain relationships with new people, hobbies, and aftercare groups to distract you from triggers.
Some of our holistic relapse prevention techniques include:
Ultimately, our treatment programs will prepare your mind, body, and spirit to withstand relapse triggers.
Below, you’ll find answers to frequently asked questions about relapse prevention:
Fortunately, there are warning signs of relapse you can look out for before it can occur. These include:
If you happen to relapse, remind yourself that the earlier you take action, the better. Judging yourself won’t help, so try acknowledging that you are not perfect and all humans make mistakes. What’s important is to take the necessary action to prevent yourself from a complete relapse. That might include attending a support meeting, making an appointment with your counselor, or talking to friends and family.
If you feel your existing support system isn’t enough, consider returning to a treatment program for help.
If you believe you are in the beginning stage of relapse, there are several tips you can try to avoid advancing to the next stage. The most important one is self-care. Taking better care of yourself is essential to prevent feeling mentally or emotionally drained to the point you return to substance use. For instance, eating correctly and getting enough sleep can prevent exhaustion and the craving to drink or use substances.
Asking for help is also essential. Never be afraid to turn to a close friend or family member who can help you through your anxieties. Having a support system is vital at this time and that’s why at Gateway Foundation, we provide aftercare programs that keep you connected to counselors, health providers, and peers in times of need.
Relapse prevention plans are essential to the addiction recovery process. If you or someone you know has substance use disorder, Gateway Foundation can help you through relapse prevention training.
We offer comprehensive treatment plans that include relapse prevention. After all, we are with you for life. Our highly skilled team can help you build sobriety tools you can use post-treatment. Through inpatient and outpatient care, you’ll receive medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapies that can be highly effective for reaching a successful recovery.
To learn more about our programs and relapse prevention training, contact us today.
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