Relapse Prevention Strategies

One of the most prominent aspects of administering an addiction treatment programme, such as those which Step 1 Recovery oversee, is the formation of a useable relapse prevention plan.

There are many areas of mindfulness-based relapse prevention strategies and self-care for relapse prevention support, and the formation of effective relapse prevention techniques for substance abuse and/or alcohol abuse are key to a long-term recovery from addiction.

While an individual experiences addiction treatment, the person undergoing this treatment will typically isolate the underlying causes of their substance abuse and/or alcoholism.

In turn, once these have been uncovered and addressed, the individual can then start forming a relapse-prevention plan which will involve altering the brain’s neurological pathways in order to help the individual avoid giving in to cravings when situations present that would have previously lead to the individual “using.”

Relapse prevention’s effectiveness is based on identifying what specific cues the individual would previously respond negatively to and, by identifying these, help prevent the individual from entering the cyclical destruction of drug and/or alcohol addiction propagates.

It is typically noted that there are various stages of relapse — be is emotional relapse, mental relapse, or physical relapse — and an effective relapse prevention plan will be able to help an individual recognise which stage they are currently experiencing as well as how best to prevent in their decline into old negative habits.


What Are High Risk Relapse Situations Or Triggers For Relapse

Overcoming a drug and/or alcohol addiction is a long and very challenging journey. However, even once you are clean and sober, there is always the fear that you will relapse.

It is useful to identify any situation and/or external lifestyle factors that can typically lead to an individual’s relapse at any stage of the recovery process. These can vary from seemingly mild or menial situations to life-altering challenges.

Some of the most common factors leading to a relapse include the likes of: boredom, stress and/or anxiousness, financial issues, relationship troubles be it familial or otherwise, specific sights and/or smells, specific individuals from your past or present, and anger.

The majority of professional drug and alcohol treatment centres will provide their clients with a structured plan of educating them on relapse prevention, which will include specific techniques as well as helping them to plan out long and short term goals for their recovery.

While there are many various relapse prevention techniques, there are a lot of lifestyle-based techniques which you can easily implement in your day-to-day life. Even when you aren’t feeling at risk of relapsing, these can be great ways to help your general mindfulness and keep the prospect of relapsing at bay.

Therefore, let’s look at some relapse prevention techniques that you can implement in your daily life.


Mindfulness And Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that is focused upon teaching people how to become increasingly self-aware. This is useful due to the fact that, when we become more self-aware, we find that we increase our ability to cope with external factors and triggers which would otherwise lead to relapsing.

In fact, backing up the importance of mindfulness mediation, an article published in the US National Library Of Medicine found that: “this [study] demonstrates empirical promise for feasibility and initial efficacy of [Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention] as an aftercare treatment for substance use disorders, and provides preliminary support for the theoretical framework behind mindfulness meditation as a therapy for addictive behaviours.” The study also noted that, “Reductions in severity of craving in the current study may be explained by increases in awareness of sensations, thoughts, and emotions that accompany craving, coupled with encouraging acceptance of and nonreactivity to the craving response,” by way of an explanation for this finding.

Through mindfulness meditation as a practice, individuals will learn how to adapt to and pass through their periods of experiencing cravings, rather than flat out fighting them. The ultimate acceptance that cravings are going to manifest comes as a learned ability baby way of this meditation. Many mindfulness meditation exercises can be found online or, conveniently, through applications such as Headspace which you can download onto your phone and engage with anywhere or any time that you feel overwhelmed.


Avoid Specific Old Hangout Locations

Your local pub or bar that you used to visit is perhaps not the best place for an individual in, or having just finishing, addiction treatment to frequent. If you are present in locations where you previously used to engage in the activity that you are trying to overcome then this can trigger old negative responses. From a position of recovery, you may find yourself idealising your old times there and thus find yourself more likely to give in to cravings and relapse.

Locations can be a powerful nostalgic trigger for individuals in recovery, so locating new places to spend your spare time or visit can be well worth your while.


Avoid Stress

This one can seem quite counter-intuitive, as the idea of trying to avoid stress can be quite stressful in itself! However, utilising relaxation techniques and engaging with mental health professionals who specialise in stress management can do wonders for your day-to-day life — and, by reducing your amount of stress which is a key factor in a lot of relapses, you lower your chances of relapsing massively.

Coping with stress is actually an area that Step 1 Recovery specialises in, so feel free to give us a call if you need any more advice on stress management and/or mental health therapy.


Joining A Support Group

The first twelve months after overcoming a drug and/or alcohol abuse disorder can be critical in a person’s recovery. Joining a support group, be it an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous group or any form of support group, a good support group can provide you with vital resources and relationships that will keep you in good stead throughout your recovery.

From being able to forge a relationship with a sponsor to being inspired by people in similar situations to yourself and facing similar obstacles, the importance of a good support group cannot be understated.