Staying Sober with Relapse Prevention

Relapse happens when someone is affected by a condition that they had previously. These conditions could be physical or mental conditions such as addiction to drugs or alcohol, eating disorders, depression, and other mental health issues. Drug relapse prevention along with alcohol relapse prevention use the same techniques as relapse takes place in our old patterns and behaviors. Relapse differentiates from a slip or lapse in that it implies a return to previous behavior patterns, as opposed to a one-time occurrence.

Relapse prevention (RP) is a cognitive-behavioral approach with the goal of identifying and preventing high-risk situations such as substance abuse, obsessive-compulsive behavior, obesity, and depression. Relapse is seen as both an outcome and as a transgression in the process of behavior change. Relapse is thought to be a multi-determined, especially by self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, craving, motivation, coping, emotional states, and interpersonal factors.

Relapse prevention aims to alter excessive or addictive behavior patterns. The focus is on the maintenance phase of the habit changing process. Relapse is a process, not an event, so to understand relapse prevention; the stages of relapse should be understood. Relapse starts before the event of physical relapse, possibly days, weeks, or even months.

The three stages of relapse are emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. Emotional relapse involves emotions and behaviors setting one up for possible relapse in the future. Signs of emotional relapse include anxiety, anger, defensiveness, isolation, not asking for help, not going to meetings, and intolerance. When catching relapse in its early stages, it is easier to gain control before the pull of addiction gets stronger.

Catching possible signs of relapse in its early stage, or emotional relapse, give one more power to fight the onset of full relapse. For example, when recognizing that you are isolating, you should remind yourself to ask for help and follow through with these actions, or when noticing that youíre anxious, practice relaxation techniques. If this behavior goes unchanged, it will exhaust you, causing you to want to escape, which shifts the relapse into the next phase.

Mental relapse occurs in the mind. In the early phase of mental relapse, the idea of using takes place, where in the later phase, actually thinking about using starts. The signs of mental relapse are thinking about people, places, and things you used with, glamorizing your past use, lying, hanging out with using friends, fantasizing about using, thinking about relapsing, and planning your relapse around other peopleís schedules. When these thoughts occur, tell someone about these urges, distract yourself, wait for about 30 minutes, as most urges last for less than this time, and remember that recovery is one day at a time.

Once the thought of relapse has started, the only way to ward off physical relapse is to use some of the techniques mentioned above. If not, it does not take long to go into physical relapse. If relapse has occurred, itís difficult to stop the process at that point for the disease of addiction has taken control.

The goal of relapse prevention is simply to learn and become comfortable utilizing techniques when our addiction starts to creep up again. Recovery requires a daily reprieve. To stay in recovery, we must have sound thoughts and minds to keep our thinking clear.

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