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Tips on Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Relapse refers to a return to substance use or engaging in addictive behaviors after a period of abstinence—it is a common and challenging part of recovery. While relapse can be discouraging and give rise to complicated feelings like shame, guilt, and remorse, it is essential to recognize it as a setback rather than a failure.

Ashwood Recovery provides high-quality addiction treatment to address substance use disorders and mental health challenges in teens and adults. Relapse prevention therapy is an integral part of our outpatient treatment programs. Whether you have relapsed or are afraid you might, we are here to help. Contact us online or call 888.341.3607 for tips on creating or building a relapse prevention plan in Boise, ID.

What Is an Addiction Relapse?

A relapse develops gradually through emotional, mental, and physical stages. Emotional relapse involves behaviors threatening sobriety. Mental relapse includes cravings and thoughts of using, leading to physical relapse. There are two types: a “slip” is a minor unintentional use that can trigger a full relapse.

A full relapse occurs when a person seeks to use the substances they are addicted to again. Putting their progress behind them is an intentional decision, whereas a slip is more of a mistake. Some common triggers that can cause a person to relapse include:

  • Stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Being around people who are drinking or using drugs
  • Going to places where they used to use alcohol or drugs
  • Difficult life events
  • Major life transitions
  • Negative or challenging emotions
  • Times of celebration

Being able to identify triggers and maintaining self-care is necessary for relapse prevention. A standard tool for many in recovery is the HALT acronym, which reminds people to take a moment to identify if they are bored, angry, hungry, or tired. When these basic needs are unmet, people are more susceptible to relapse.

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention plan is essential for those in recovery. It helps identify behaviors leading to relapse and ways to combat them to stay on track with recovery goals. Each plan is unique based on individual needs, circumstances, and goals. However, relapse prevention plan templates typically follow a standard format, the components of which include the following:

  • Identifying triggers
  • Warning signs
  • Coping strategies
  • Social support
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Avoiding high-risk situations
  • Self-reflection
  • Emergency plan
  • Reward and reinforcement

A relapse prevention plan is a dynamic tool to be adapted as you progress through recovery. You should adjust your strategies accordingly as you gain more insight into your triggers and warning signs. Working with a therapist or support group provides guidance, helps you maintain accountability, and provides valuable feedback.

Tips for Building a Relapse Prevention Plan

Numerous online templates outline how to create a relapse prevention plan. However, the best tip for creating an effective relapse prevention plan is to work with a therapist in a relapse prevention therapy program.

In creating your relapse prevention plan, you should:

  • Assess your history of substance abuse
  • Determine any signs that could lead to relapse and have an action plan for each
  • Have a step-by-step plan for what you will do if you do relapse or come close to it

Be sure to write and share your plan with others in your support network, including your therapist, sponsor, or trusted friends and family. Sharing your plan with others helps reinforce accountability and allows them to know when and how to step in if needed.

Most importantly, refer to your relapse prevention plan daily; otherwise, it will not work for you.

Call Ashwood Recovery for More Information on Relapse Prevention Therapy

Relapse is a normal part of the recovery process. There are no guarantees that you won’t relapse. Relapse prevention therapy teaches the skills to reduce the risk of relapse. Contact Ashwood Recovery online or call 888.341.3607 today to learn more.