Tools for Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is a cognitive behavioral approach to try to prevent circumstances that could lead a recoving alcoholic or addict back to using drugs or alcohol. Most residential treatment centers utilize relapse prevention tools and plans as part of their recovery curriculum. Many times relapse prevention plans include the identification of triggers and warning signs that could lead back to drug using and seeking behavior.

Relapse prevention tools can be applied way before a physical relapse takes place. During early stages of an emotional relapse, it is important to recognize anxiety and practice relaxation techniques. When these warning signs are identified, an addict can use tools in order to prevent a physical relapse or come out of an emotional relapse.

The most important thing an addict can do to prevent a relapse during this stage is take better care of themselves. Tools for this stage include, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, identifying and working through anger and resentments, participating in enjoyable sober activities, and reaching out for help within your sober network.

If tools are not applied during early stages of emotional relapse a mental relapse can occur. In a mental relapse, people are haunted by feelings of wanting to use drugs or go back to their addictive behavior. Signs of a mental relapse include, glamorizing your past use, lying, thinking about physical relapse, hanging out with old using friends, and planning your relapse around other people’s schedules.

If you find yourself going through a mental relapse, relapse prevention tools can be applied. Some of these tools include playing the tape through of your planned or thought about relapse. For example, thinking about how you will feel the next day, and how it will effect your life and the consequences it will cause may steer you away from physically relapsing. Another tool is to tell someone that you’re having urges to use. Calling a sober friend and sharing with them your urges will decrease your desire to use. Most using urges last for less than 15 to 30 minutes. When you have an urge it is a good idea to keep yourself busy until this time period passes. Another key tool to use during a mental relapse is to make relaxation a part of your recovery. When you are tense, you are more likely to make hasty and destructive decisions. When you are relaxed, you are more open to think through your decisions.

If you are experiencing a physical relapse, meaning you are using drugs or engaging in your addictive behavior, the most important tool to apply is going to a 12 step meeting. In a meeting, you will find honesty, courage, and community. It is easier to get sober with the help and support of other addicts who have experienced your pain.

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