Relapse Prevention: Strategies to Avoid Triggers

Understanding that a relapse may occur can be your first defense again preventing one from happening. It is an entirely different thing to come back to your safety plan regularly to update and alter it. You are constantly changing and growing, which means your unique recovery needs will also shift. You must always stay up to date with any new triggers or ways to stay involved with continuing treatment.

alcohol relapse prevention plan

Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use. When individuals do not change their lives, then all the factors that contributed to their addiction will eventually catch up with them. Dealing with post-acute withdrawal is one of the tasks of the abstinence stage [1]. Post-acute withdrawal begins shortly after the acute phase of withdrawal and is a common cause of relapse [17]. Unlike acute withdrawal, which has mostly physical symptoms, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) has mostly psychological and emotional symptoms. Its symptoms also tend to be similar for most addictions, unlike acute withdrawal, which tends to have specific symptoms for each addiction [1].

What is Relapse Prevention?

If you’ve been affected by addiction, it’s important to find a support group. Having a supportive network of family, friends, or colleagues may make recovery easier. During this phase, a person may not be thinking about using, but they may experience alcohol relapse rate thoughts and behaviors that ultimately lead them toward reuse. You can follow the tips outlined in this article to stay on track with recovery. Additionally, use resources and support systems to help yourself or a loved one who may have AUD.

alcohol relapse prevention plan

Relapse prevention is the use of coping skills, recovery tools and mindfulness exercises to diminish the likelihood or re-occurrence of relapse. Relapse-prevention plans can be individualized based on our preferences. If one person likes to meditate and walk in the park for stress relief and grounding, those can and should be used for preventing relapse. Anything that helps us healthfully manage and process our emotions is a great inclusion in a relapse prevention plan. An important element that is often created during treatment is a safety plan. A safety plan, also known as a crisis plan, is a relapse prevention plan.

Gorski-Cenaps Relapse Prevention Model

Denied users will not or cannot fully acknowledge the extent of their addiction. Denied users invariably make a secret deal with themselves that at some point they will try using again. Important milestones such as recovery anniversaries are often seen as reasons to use. Alternatively, once a milestone is reached, individuals feel they have recovered enough that they can determine when and how to use safely. It is remarkable how many people have relapsed this way 5, 10, or 15 years after recovery.

The faster you discuss your relapse and/or return to treatment, the better you’ll be able to get back on track. Remember, a relapse is common and doesn’t mean that treatment has failed. It’s simply an opportunity to readjust your treatment plan and learn how to better cope with your triggers in the future. If a lapse or relapse does occur, it is beneficial to get help or support as soon as possible.

What is Relapse?

With some effort and practice, we should be able to detect the smallest and earliest signs of a potential relapse. Then we can address the issues as they arise and find a healthy way forward. Anyone struggling with alcohol dependence or trying to support someone with AUD needs an effective strategy for preventing relapse.

This article offers a practical approach to relapse prevention that works well in both individual and group therapy. A person may find it helps to remember the negative emotions or physical sensations they felt when using drugs or alcohol. Remembering the negative effects using had on aspects of their life, such as their relationships, work, or studying, may also help. Some people use the term “relapse” to describe when a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD) returns to using drugs or alcohol after a period of abstinence.

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