Patients are encouraged to review this list when they need motivation or experience triggers. Although the term “recovery coach” was first used in 2006, the service has not gained wide adoption in addiction treatment. Peer recovery coaches are individuals who have experienced addiction themselves but have been abstinent for an extended period (often at least one or two years). Peer recovery coaches complete approximately 40 hours of training in addition to a minimum number of hours of work in the field to obtain certification. For example, in the Mid-west, individuals can train in a program that emphasizes Native American values and traditions with the intention that they will be able to offer more effective support to other Native Americans. Breathalyzers have the advantage of being quick and inexpensive to administer.

One cognitive strategy is to recite a mantra selected and rehearsed in advance. A behavioral strategy is to call and engage in conversation with a friend or other member of your support network. Getting out of a high-risk situation is sometimes necessary for preserving recovery. It’s possible to predict that some events—parties, other social events—may be problematic. It’s wise to create in advance a plan that can be enacted on the spot—for example, pre-arranging for a friend or family member to pick you up if you text or call.

List Your Triggers and Coping Strategies

Based on operant conditioning, the motivation to use in a particular situation is based on the expected positive or negative reinforcement value of a specific outcome in that situation5. Both negative and positive expectancies are related to relapse, with negative expectancies being protective against relapse and positive expectancies being a risk factor for relapse4. Those who drink the most tend to have higher expectations regarding the positive effects of alcohol9. In high-risk situations, the person expects alcohol to help him or her cope with negative emotions or conflict (i.e. when drinking serves as “self-medication”). Expectancies are the result of both direct and indirect (e.g. perception of the drug from peers and media) experiences3.

Certain people, places, and situations can drive you back into drinking or using drugs again. It takes time to get over a dependence, deal with withdrawal symptoms, and overcome the urge to use. The purpose of this rule is to remind individuals not to resist or sabotage change by insisting that they do recovery their way. A simple test of whether a person is bending the rules is if they look for loopholes in recovery.

Financial support and sponsorship

As time passes, it may be important to revisit your relapse prevention plan. The components you acknowledged in your plan at the beginning of your recovery have the potential to change and develop over time, as do the people in your support system. This can be done on your own or by sitting down with a professional. Each individual’s needs will vary, so it is important to assess where you are in your recovery and to be honest with yourself. Compile a list of who you can call if you experience cravings, what you can do to distract yourself from cravings and how you can stop a craving altogether. Substance use is a negative coping skill, so healthy coping skills will prevent relapse and result in positive outcomes in the long-term.

Since they’ve likely been in your shoes, they may have some insight and suggestions. Regardless, it is important to consider the following items when creating a relapse prevention plan. It is also important to find ways to deal with stress that don’t involve relying on alcohol, substances, or harmful behaviors. Stress relievers that might help you manage acute and long-term stress include yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness practices. In order to understand how to prevent relapse, it is essential to first understand the relapse process itself. Relapse isn’t a sudden event; it is a process that occurs over a period of time which can range from weeks to even months.

Assess Your History with Drugs and Alcohol

The loss of a family member, a loved one, or a close friend can be incredibly painful, both spiritually and emotionally. For someone in recovery, the situations in which we grieve present their own relapse prevention unique difficulties. It can be easy for someone without recovery tools to pick up a drink during this time. Given these statistics, it’s easy to apply the second and third steps to a career setback.

They often enter treatment saying, “We want our old life back — without the using.” I try to help clients understand that wishing for their old life back is like wishing for relapse. Rather than seeing the need for change as a negative, they are encouraged to see recovery as an opportunity for change. If they make the necessary changes, they can go forward and be happier than they were before. It forces people to reevaluate their lives and make changes that non-addicts don’t have to make. The tasks of this stage are similar to the tasks that non-addicts face in everyday life. When non-addicts do not develop healthy life skills, the consequence is that they may be unhappy in life.

Relapse Prevention: Staying Sober Through Life Setbacks…from The Fix…

Dr. Ahmed Zayed has degrees in Medicine and Surgery and is a graduate of The University of Alexandria. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and healthcare articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers. Addiction Resource team has compiled an extensive list of the top drug rehabilitation facilities around the country. Click on the state you are interested in, and you’ll get a list of the best centers in the area, along with their levels of care, working hours, and contact information. For this recidivism prevention activity to become more worthwhile, therapists recommend breaking down goals into smaller bits and pieces that can be achieved over shorter periods.

Inventory not only the feelings you had just before it occurred but examine the environment you were in when you decided to use again. Sometimes nothing was going on—boredom can be a significant trigger of relapse. Such reflection helps you understand your vulnerabilities—different for every person. Armed with such knowledge, you can develop a contingency plan to help you avoid or cope with such situations in the future.

During behavioral therapy appointments, we seek to help patients understand what led them to drug use in the first place. This includes any external factors that influenced the decision-making process. By identifying what has led addicts to use drugs initially or repeatedly, we can help them identify changes that must be made in their life in order to continue to live clean after their detox process is over.

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