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5 Tips for Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Going through a rehabilitation program is a huge step in getting your life back on track. You simply can’t move on and live a full, healthy life until you address your addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Unfortunately, most addictions don’t go away easily. Even if you’ve been in recovery and sober for weeks, months, or even years, you have to face the fact that once you’ve experienced substance abuse, it can rear its ugly head at any time.

Don’t let an alcohol or drug addiction come back to haunt you after you have done so much work to banish it from your life for good! Instead, create a relapse prevention plan that ensures you stay on the straight and narrow today, tomorrow, and for years to come.

1. Know Your Triggers

relapse prevention

Every relapse prevention plan starts with knowing your triggers. Ex-addicts of drugs and alcohol find it relatively easy to avoid their drug of choice when things are going well. When things are going wrong, it’s really easy to turn back to old habits.

Everyone’s triggers are different. Most people have some very specific triggers that might include certain smells, food, or even music. However, there are also some triggers that are common among people living with substance use disorder, no matter what their life circumstances or history.

A few common triggers include:

  • Stress due to work, school, or personal relationships
  • People you interacted with regularly when high or drunk
  • Places you visited regularly while you were addicted
  • Negative or challenging emotions due to mental health or life events
  • Seeing, hearing, or smelling the things associated with your addiction
  • Times of celebration, like holidays and birthdays

2. Make a List of Ways to Deal With Your Triggers

Knowing your triggers is only the first step. If you want to prevent relapse, you have to know how to deal with those triggers when they arise.

How you deal with your triggers will be unique to you, but there are some skills that are effective for everyone. For example, one coping skill that can be effective when dealing with stress is mindfulness and relaxation training. Even something as simple as taking three deep breaths can help you center yourself so you aren’t tempted to return to your old ways.

It is important to write out a list of ways to deal with your triggers that you can access at a moment’s notice. That way, you don’t have to rely on your brain to try and come up with ideas in the moment. Even the best memories can fail, and many who rely on their brains end up unprepared to handle their triggers. Sadly, this often leads to relapse.

3. Participate in a Support Group or Program

relapse prevention group

Support groups are essential to any relapse prevention program. It is important that there is a place where you can go to talk about your feelings with other people who are struggling with the same problems. Many people with addiction issues develop strong bonds with others in their support groups, which enables them to encourage others and receive the encouragement to avoid revisiting their addictions.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a great choice for those who are dealing with a previous alcohol addiction, while Narconon is a similar program designed specifically for those with a previous narcotics addiction.

Life skills groups can be very helpful for those who struggle to muddle through everyday life. They can teach you things like food preparation, budgeting, and time management that can help you avoid stress, which in turn can help you avoid the risk of relapsing.

Groups that focus on your addiction and mental health can be very helpful, but many other kinds of groups can help you in your recovery journey! Painting classes, intramural sports, and book clubs can help you make meaningful connections outside of your addiction.

4. Know Where to Go When You Feel a Relapse Coming On

Even if you know your triggers, you have healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with them, and you feel supported by a group or program, you can still fall prey to a relapse. Fortunately, there are many stages of a relapse, and if you find that some of your current coping mechanisms aren’t helping, you should know where to go to get the help you need before you spiral out of control.

Addiction treatment centers are a viable option if you feel that you need comprehensive care to prevent your relapse. Additionally, staying at an inpatient facility is a great way to ensure that you aren’t exposed to drugs or alcohol at a  vulnerable time.

5. Make Changes to Your Life That Encourage Sober Living

You’re just treading water if you’ve addressed your physical addiction without addressing the environment that is associated with your addiction. That’s why, when creating a relapse prevention plan, you also have to make a plan for how you’re going to change things in your external world.

A complete life change is absolutely necessary for effective addiction recovery. It will reduce or eliminate triggers that make you want to use, which in turn will make your recovery much easier.

A few life changes you need to make may include:

  • No longer visiting places where you have used before
  • Only spending time with sober and support friends and family
  • Finding recreational activities that don’t have anything to do with your addiction
  • Rearranging your day-to-day life to keep you busy and engaged
  • Making time for self-help activities, like reading books or taking courses

If you’re searching for treatment programs, or you’re interested in learning about programs that will help you avoid relapse, call our admissions specialists at (614) 471-2552, or you can fill out our confidential contact form. We can help you no matter where you’re at in your recovery.

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Please note: For medical emergencies, please call 911. For other urgent matters, please call our admissions line (614) 471-2552. Submissions after-hours, weekends, or holidays may experience a longer response time.

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