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How to Write a Bulletproof Relapse Prevention Plan

There are umpteen actionable steps to include in the plan to ward off a relapse. Some steps in creating a relapse prevention plan include identifying triggers, developing coping strategies, establishing a support system, and learning relaxation techniques. 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.

You can also reach out to them whenever you experience triggers or cravings. If you’ve relapsed before, try to identify the feelings you felt before your relapse. The final stage is succumbing to temptation and engaging in drug or alcohol use again. This could involve going to a bar or liquor store, contacting your dealer, or retrieving your old stash.

Common Causes of Relapse and How to Avoid

Positive reinforcement prevents individuals from slipping back into old habits because it makes them feel emotionally fulfilled as opposed to seeking instant gratification through drug or alcohol use. Setting SMART Goals for Successful Prevention is one of the essential steps to prepare for relapse prevention planning. It involves creating specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals that help individuals and their families work towards a successful recovery journey. Addiction affects not only the individual struggling with substance use disorder but also their loved ones. A family-centered approach to creating a relapse prevention plan involves everyone in the process and helps establish a support system. Consistent routines are not just good for those who struggle with addictions but also beneficial to people who want structure in their daily life.

relapse prevention plan

The Relapse Prevention Plan worksheet provides a bare-bones structure for creating such a plan. This resource will ask your client to identify red flags warning them that they’re near relapse, people they can call during cravings, and things they can do to take their mind off using. Because of this worksheets open-ended nature, we suggest using it as a prompt for conversation in groups. A person can be abstinent from alcohol and not be “in recovery” because they have no intention of staying sober.

My Loved One Needs Help

Having your relapse prevention plan written down will serve as a way to keep you accountable to the plan. It also gives you something to refer back to to remind yourself of why you’re doing this and how to stay on track. Finding hobbies that occupy your mind and your time and are incredible. Something that you enjoy will keep you busy – when you’re doing something you love and you’re fully immersed in it time goes by faster than you can imagine.

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. One vital component of the relapse prevention plan is looking out for and avoiding contact with potential triggers during treatment.

Support Your Recovery

The importance of a strong relapse prevention plan cannot be overstated. Preventing relapse sounds like a secondary goal, but it’s a powerful tool in any recovery. Ultimately, even if our sobriety isn’t at risk, these tools will flesh out our recoveries and add color, meaning and emotional grounding to our daily lives. A relapse prevention plan is used to help keep a person from using a substance after they have decided to quit. It is one of many tools used by individuals recovering from a substance use disorder.

  • These statistics can help you process just how common drug relapse is and how drug addiction is a chronic but curable condition that requires prolonged treatment, just like any other chronic disorder.
  • Without it, individuals can go to self-help meetings, have a sponsor, do step work, and still relapse.
  • If you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, it’s important to have a plan written out and shared with others, such as friends, family members, or members of your professional care team.

Another form of bargaining is when people start to think that they can relapse periodically, perhaps in a controlled way, for example, once or twice a year. Bargaining also can take the form of switching one addictive substance for another. Another goal of therapy at this stage is to help clients identify their denial. I find it helpful to encourage clients to compare their current behavior to behavior during past relapses and see if their self-care is worsening or improving.

Therapy Blueprint For PTSD

In a study conducted at a large, publicly funded addiction treatment facility affiliated with Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, data from 878 patients over a 1-year period was analyzed. The study assessed the proportion of patients who were abstinent at discharge. The patients were categorized based on their primary drug of abuse, such as alcohol, opiates, cocaine, and marijuana, excluding nicotine. Below is a sample of a relapse prevention plan that can serve as a guideline when writing your own recovery care plan.

  • It highlights the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and positive social interactions.
  • Addiction affects not only the individual struggling with substance use disorder but also their loved ones.
  • These are all great examples for motivational objectives you may want to strive for.
  • Contact a healthcare professional if you or someone you know suffers from a substance use disorder.
  • Sometimes they are brought on by triggering events or situations, such as stress or major life events.

Consistency leads to success, making it crucial to develop these habits that work best for the person in recovery in setting the stage for long-term success. Developing an Effective Action Plan requires valuable insights that go beyond the basic steps of planning. A successful plan must focus on results-oriented actions with clear objectives and measurable outcomes while taking into account potential challenges that may arise along the way. In many cases, relapse is not necessarily a failure in treatment but rather an indication that further support or adjustments are necessary. Understanding this perspective allows individuals to see their setbacks as opportunities for growth rather than debilitating defeats.

According to NIDH, 85 percent of individuals relapse within a year of treatment which is why it’s so important to create a plan to stop relapse from occurring. Formal, evidence-based addiction treatment can not only help someone get sober but also give them the skills needed to remain in long-term recovery. Part of this is learning effective ways to develop relapse prevention strategies and techniques. The more detailed your plan is, the more likely it is to be helpful during a variety of situations and events.

  • Unlike acute withdrawal, which has mostly physical symptoms, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) has mostly psychological and emotional symptoms.
  • It should detail exactly what to do if you feel the signs of a relapse beginning — the people you will call, what actions you will take, and what you will do instead of returning to substance use.
  • Margaret Fahey
    Margaret Fahey, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, CGS science communications intern, and NIDA T32 postdoctoral fellow at MUSC in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.
  • By recognizing this reality, patients should be motivated to stay on guard and learn as much as they can about how to prevent it.
  • When individuals continue to refer to their using days as “fun,” they continue to downplay the negative consequences of addiction.






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