Beginning a Relapse Prevention Strategy

Having skills and strategies in place for a patient recovering from addiction is paramount. Goals and measures must be taken to help recovering addicts avoid relapse. However, urges and temptations are a constant struggle for those recovering from addiction, and relapses are frequent. It is never too early to establish a relapse plan for patients, as their different triggers and levels of success all vary wildly from patient to patient.

Waiting until a certain point in recovery to have these in place could be too late. Having the information and education available to the person as early as possible can help keep the course of recovery moving as smoothly as possible. While there is no way to guarantee that a person will live without urges, the right support system can create the best possible scenario for them to develop lasting sobriety.

Defining Their Success

The reason that developing these strategies early in recovery is so important is that it can be hard to define success or progress. For one patient, simply going a day or two without drinking can be a huge milestone. At the same time, another person may not think they have succeeded unless they have gone a month without gambling. The patient should set these goals for themselves and not have success measured for them on the outside. Therefore, having these plans in place as early as possible ensures that each person has the skills they need to hit whatever their milestone of success may be.

Look to the Past

Much of this information may come forth during the intake process or the first couple of sessions. Don’t be afraid to let them know that you want to explore it a little more as long as they are comfortable with it. Remain transparent on why you want to explore it, and what the information will be used for. Looking at someone’s past can create a more holistic picture of what their usage looked like.

This serves to establish a list of high-risk places and situations and triggers that they may or may not be aware of themselves. People often look at their own past as a fluid concept, with each memory flowing to the next. However, isolating these different memories can help compartmentalize what may be acting against their own interests. This may include places, people, times of year or day, or specific stresses that cause usage to be reactionary.

Speak What Was Found

Explain potential triggers to your client in straightforward terms. Having a clear cut “danger” area and “safe” area can be a good place to begin the process. Leave a little room for nuance in their description and why they may be dangerous. Identifying these triggers early can prevent relapse as a person is encouraged to avoid them for a specified period. They may also be taught to focus on something that may be “safer” for them at their current stage in recovery. However, this can extend beyond the patient.

Educating the family and loved ones can create a more effective support system on the home front. Those people can then reinforce avoiding certain areas or aspects that were a part of a patient’s past and help refocus their energy during recovery. Urges and temptations can strike at any time for several reasons. Having a supportive person available at all times of the day can mitigate the potential of relapse.

Have The Patient Acknowledge it Themselves

Having a patient physically write down things that they should avoid can help internalize the concept. It can be a simple, black-and-white list that helps them keep scheduled for the more difficult stages of recovery. However, this list doesn’t have to be negative in nature. Instead, it can also be a list of things that they want to do that would be conducive to recovery. Urges often are an overwhelming feeling of need, and having complex webs can be difficult to process in the moment. Having a single, definitive list of strategies and activities can help keep a patient busy while the urge passes.

Lifestyle Adjustments

A large part of recovery involves relearning what one’s life may look like. This can be overwhelming for anyone. Instead of trying to rebuild a new life from the ground up, identify the root of the triggers. This strategy can prevent relapse and lead to a path where someone doesn’t have to completely uproot their life. “Adjustments” here is then the keyword. Aim for minor adjustments one way or another. Make subtle suggestions that allow the patient to keep some familiarity and comfort in life while adjusting to the connections that particular places or events may have.

These factors make up the base of a relapse prevention plan. While emergency and crisis plans are also necessary, mitigating the chances of relapse in the first place is where many professionals and patients want to start. Having everyone on the same page can help identify which triggers and events leave the patient at a high risk of relapse, then reconstructing the connections that their life held before.

Relapse prevention doesn’t need to be a complete lifestyle change. Still, it is a system put in place where patients can identify their own triggers and supports to best judge what could be dangerous for them. Their recovery is ultimately in their own hands, but educating them about their own triggers for relapse prevention cannot come early enough.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and is ready to take that first step towards a happy, healthy life, contact Alta Centers today. Using a modern detox and recovery style, Alta Centers focuses on the ways that someone can continue living a fun life outside of addiction, all while staying a part of all that society has to offer. For more information on their programs, contact Alta Centers at 1-888-202-2583.

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