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Tips for Relapse Prevention


There are a number of tips and techniques for relapse prevention, but the number one recommendation is recognizing when thoughts, behaviors, and patterns change. When acknowledging these changes, one can quickly reverse these by taking preventative measures. However, if the thoughts, behaviors, and patterns continue, it becomes harder to maintain recovery, for the addictive thinking has taken over. Relapse prevention is a systematic method of teaching recovering patients to recognize and manage relapse warning signs. This is the primary focus for patients who need help in maintain their recover after primary treatment. Recovery is defined as abstinence plus a full return to bio/psycho/social functioning. Relapse occurs prior to the actual event and can be seen by a series of observable warning signs. Relapse is a progression, starting in the mind. The symptoms continue to intensify until the individual returns to using drugs and alcohol for relief, unless they take action to counteract this process.

The dynamic interaction between the recovery and relapse process can be unfolded in six stages:
  • Abstaining from alcohol and other drugs.
  • Separating from people, places, and things that promote the use of alcohol or drugs, and establishing a social network that supports recovery.
  • Stopping self-defeating behaviors that prevent awareness of painful feelings and irrational thoughts.
  • Learning how to manage feelings and emotions responsibly without resorting to compulsive behavior or the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Learning to change addictive thinking patterns that create painful feelings and self-defeating behaviors
  • Identifying and changing the mistaken core beliefs about oneself, others, and the world that promotes irrational thinking.
In avoiding relapse, it is paramount to have knowledge of factors or situation that can advance or contribute to a relapse episode. Reviewing and assessing environmental and emotional characteristics associated with relapse must be identified, as well as examining the individualís response to these situations. Once the relapse process has been processed, strategies to reduce the risk of relapse should be constructed around the individualís weaknesses.

The relapse prevention model has a designed approach that targets each step in the relapse process. Preventing relapse requires a plan of converting to new behaviors as well as maintaining them. These new behaviors should be integrated into our behavior diversion activities, coping skills, and emotional support.

These coping skills can make the difference when cravings are intense:
  • Ask a friend for help, prefribly someone who has a lot of experience in using relaxation techniques to help in reducing anxiety that surrounds cravings.
  • Recognize triggers or situations that would not be healthy or smart to be a part of. Discovering new ways in dealing with negative feelings. Also channell anxiety in healthy ways.
  • Use excercising and eating healthy as a way to minamize mood swings and put yourself in a good happy head space.
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