What to Consider When Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan
A relapse prevention plan is a vital tool for anyone in recovery. Having a plan helps you recognize your own personal behaviors that may lead to relapse in the future. It can also help you outline ways to combat those behaviors and stay on track.
What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A relapse prevention plan is typically a written document a person creates with their treatment team and shares with their support group. The plan addresses appropriate courses of action in response to triggers and cravings.
Stages of Relapse
Relapse is generally a 3-part process, which includes the following:
In emotional relapse, you’re not thinking about using, but your emotions and behaviors are setting you up for a possible relapse in the future. The signs of emotional relapse are many, but can include:
- Restlessness, Irritability, and Discontent
- Mood swings
- Not asking for help
- Not going to meetings
- Poor eating habits
- Poor sleep habits
In the mental relapse phase, you begin thinking about using again. The signs of mental relapse are:
- Thinking about people, places, and things you were involved with when you were using
- Glamorizing your past use
- Lying about whereabouts
- Hanging out with old friends that still use
- Thinking about relapsing
In the physical relapse phase, you take action on your mental relapse urges. Examples of a physical relapse include:
- Driving to your dealer
- Driving to the liquor store
Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan
The goal of a relapse prevention plan is to help you to acknowledge and act upon certain feelings and events in the emotional and mental relapse stages so that you can avoid a physical relapse.
The following considerations should be taken into account when creating a relapse prevention plan:
- Who could I see that would remind me of drug use?
- What places did I use drugs that could trigger me?
- What addictive thoughts could make me relapse?
- What can I do if I cannot avoid things that trigger me?
- Do anniversaries or times of year trigger relapse?
- What feelings are linked to relapse?
Cravings are the feelings you have when you want to use again and can lead to relapse. If you have a solid plan to confront such cravings, a relapse will be less likely.
Part of your relapse prevention plan should include:
- A list of who you can call when you experience cravings
- What you can do to distract yourself from cravings
- Ways you can best stop a craving altogether
Identify helpful activities, programs, support networks, etc. that are sustainable for you. These may include:
- Continuing programs and support
- Listing consequences of a relapse
- Keeping a journal
- Keeping a gratitude list and perspective of positive breakthroughs
- Friends, family and pets that are positive influencers
Pursue your passions, talents or find something worthwhile to occupy your time. Serving others, diving into activities or practicing your talents are all great ways to refocus your energy. Simply counting the days is antagonizing when grappling with recovery.
When creating a relapse prevention plan it is vital to consider specific scenarios that relate to your experience and triggers and to incorporate clearly defined actions as alternatives to using drugs or alcohol. The more detailed and specific this plan is, the more effective it will be.
How We Can Help
At Legacy Healing Center we are dedicated to your long-term success. We know that addiction doesn’t end when you walk out of our doors and neither does the support and care that you receive while you are with us. We aim to ensure that you are equipped with all the tools you need, including a solid relapse prevention plan and a complete support system, to help you succeed in your recovery and achieve long-term health and healing.