- Top 10 Tips to Prevent Relapse
- 1. Lay the groundwork with a comprehensive addiction treatment program
- 2. Attend your treatment program all the way through
- 3. Develop and follow through on your aftercare plan
- 4. Build a support network to keep in touch with after treatment
- 5. Find a therapist for ongoing individual therapy
- 6. Attend 12-step meetings or other recovery support groups
- 7. Discover some new hobbies or reconnect with old ones
- 8. Get your body moving
- 9. Make use of a journal
- 10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
- Alcohol Relapse – Symptoms, Triggers, And Prevention
- What Is An Alcohol Relapse?
- Symptoms Of An Alcohol Relapse
- Stage One: Emotional Relapse
- Stage Two: Mental Relapse
- Stage Three: Physical Relapse
- Alcohol Relapse Triggers
- Alcohol Relapse Prevention
- Getting Treatment After An Alcohol Relapse
Top 10 Tips to Prevent Relapse
Every person in recovery from drug addiction is at risk for relapse, no matter how much time it’s been since they last used a substance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a disorder indicated by compulsive drug use, often despite any consequences, that leads to long-lasting changes in the brain.
Addiction is both a chronic and relapsing disease. This means, similar to other diseases hypertension and asthma, that it has no cure. Relapse is a common part of all chronic diseases and addiction is no different. Studies place the rates of relapse for substance use disorders anywhere between 40 and 60 percent.
If you’re in recovery from a substance use disorder and relapsed, it does not mean that you failed. It doesn’t negate your previous efforts to stay drug-free and it doesn’t mean that any treatment program you attended wasn’t successful. But it doesn’t mean that you should use it as an excuse to continue using drugs, either.
Although there is no cure for addiction, there are things you can do to prevent relapse. It takes proactive and ongoing effort to counter addiction’s disruptive effects on your brain. You have plenty of resources available to support your long-term recovery journey. These tips can give you some ideas to incorporate into your recovery in order to stay clean and sober.
1. Lay the groundwork with a comprehensive addiction treatment program
It isn’t easy to stop the cycle of addiction on your own. You aren’t alone if you’ve had a hard time trying to quit using by yourself. Addiction treatment is a great place to start when you’re looking to get clean. It places you in an environment where you can focus all your energy on laying the groundwork to prevent relapse and live a life of long-term recovery.
There are many different options for addiction treatment programs available depending on your needs. From detox to inpatient facilities to outpatient programs, there is a program for you. The combination of individual and group therapy, educational classes, and experiential therapy options help you learn to live free from drugs.
2. Attend your treatment program all the way through
It might seem obvious to some, but an important part of preventing relapse includes attending your treatment program the entire way through. People who choose to leave treatment early against clinical advice hinder their recovery. Even if there are aspects of addiction treatment that you don’t fully enjoy, there’s always something to learn and take away from them.
The effort you put into treatment sets the pace for your recovery journey. If you only put in a minimal amount of effort or leave your program early, you aren’t giving yourself the best chance to remain sober. If you get the opportunity to attend treatment, take advantage of it and make the most of the program available to you.
3. Develop and follow through on your aftercare plan
Toward the end of your time in treatment, you’ll sit with your counselor or case manager and develop an aftercare plan. Aftercare refers to the support plan you’ll follow after graduating your program and leaving the treatment facility. Adhering to your outlined program is one of the best ways to prevent relapse.
The majority of aftercare plans include some form of outpatient program or drug and alcohol counseling. Some include 12-step meetings or living in a sober living. The details of your specific aftercare plan will depend on the requirements and offerings available at your facility.
4. Build a support network to keep in touch with after treatment
Trying to stay away from drugs and prevent relapse on your own is a difficult challenge. It’s more tempting to turn back to drugs when you don’t have a support group to hold you accountable. It’s helpful to have a group you can turn to when you’re feeling alone and challenged by the pressures of living drug-free.
Your aftercare plan may include group therapy which is a great place to start. Find a few people from your group who you’d to spend time with while outside of treatment. Exchange numbers and reach out to one another when you’re having a difficult time outside of group hours.
5. Find a therapist for ongoing individual therapy
If your aftercare plan doesn’t include ongoing therapy, you might want to find a therapist on your own. It’s helpful to maintain regular contact with a counselor or therapist who understands the added difficulty of living a life in recovery.
Therapy gives you a safe place to work through challenges in the present moment, as well as issues from your past that you didn’t get to work through in treatment. If you can continue seeing a therapist after treatment it will be a great way to prevent relapse.
6. Attend 12-step meetings or other recovery support groups
12-step meetings or other recovery support groups give you access to a room of people who understand your struggles. There are groups for any problem you might have, from drugs and alcohol to gambling and overeating. Some people don’t appreciate the 12-step approach to recovery, so groups SMART Recovery or Refuge Recovery may be helpful to prevent relapse.
7. Discover some new hobbies or reconnect with old ones
Only after getting clean do you realize how time-consuming it is to maintain a life of active drug addiction. Most of your time is spent either under the influence of drugs or coming up with the money you need to buy more drugs. Once you remove substances from the equation you’re left with a lot of free time.
Idle time isn’t the safest thing in early recovery. If you want to prevent relapse, use your time to find some new activities you enjoy or rediscover those that addiction took away from you. Try out a new recipe in the kitchen, go to a concert with some sober friends, or join a slow pitch softball league. There are countless ways to occupy your time that don’t include drugs.
8. Get your body moving
Depression and anxiety are common struggles in the first few weeks and months of recovery. It takes time to adjust to your new life without using drugs as a bandage to cover your emotions.
Exercise is a great way to release endorphins in your brain that boost your energy and regulate your mood.
Whether it’s walking, jogging, yoga, biking, swimming, lifting weights, or something else, there’s bound to be a way to get your body moving that you’ll enjoy.
9. Make use of a journal
Journaling is a great multipurpose way to prevent relapse. Use your journal as a way to track your moods, things that tempt you to use, and ways to spend your time that you find enjoyable. Journaling is a great way to reflect on where you came from, assess your goals, and set up a plan to pursue your dreams in recovery.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help doesn’t always come easy but if you want to prevent relapse you have to learn how to ask for help. This could mean reaching out to your case manager or therapist, your recovery support group, or another set group of friends. Maybe you need to try out a self-help recovery program or a 12-step program.
It might be difficult at first but it gets easier as you practice. You don’t have to deal with a drug-free life on your own. The more you reach out to others and ask for help along the way, the better your chance of maintaining long-term recovery.
Alcohol Relapse – Symptoms, Triggers, And Prevention
Among all substance use disorders, alcohol addiction is the most common. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 15 million American adults struggled with alcohol addiction in 2015. Luckily, there are several treatment options available for people looking to overcome an alcohol use disorder.
A treatment program will help a person get sober and equip him or her with the tools needed to maintain sobriety. Alcohol use disorder is a lifelong disease, which means that someone with this condition will need to continue to take measures to stay sober. However, even when vigilant, many individuals will experience relapse after a period of sobriety.
An alcohol relapse can be dangerous, especially if a person’s alcohol use disorder was severe before sobriety. Despite this, a relapse should not discourage someone from getting back on track with recovery. In fact, many schools of thought consider relapses a normal part of the process for people recovering from alcoholism.
Understanding relapse and the symptoms and triggers that may precede a relapse is important for people recovering from an alcohol use disorder. Let’s look at the common symptoms and possible triggers of an alcoholic relapse.
What Is An Alcohol Relapse?
In the simplest terms, an alcohol relapse is when someone returns to drinking after a period of sobriety. Because of the chronic nature of the disease of addiction, relapse is an unfortunately common part of alcohol use disorder recovery.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that roughly 90 percent of people who receive treatment will relapse within four years. There is currently no single method of treatment that is guaranteed to prevent relapse.
While these statistics are certainly sobering, relapse rates vary significantly and each person is different. One individual may find lasting success after attending a treatment program only once, whereas someone else may require multiple treatment attempts before sobriety is maintained.
While a relapse can often bring with it feelings of shame and guilt, it’s important to keep in mind that relapse is often believed to be just another part of the recovery process. However, there are certain steps a person can take to be aware of and prevent a possible relapse.
Symptoms Of An Alcohol Relapse
A relapse typically doesn’t happen overnight, especially for someone who has been sober for an extended period of time. An alcohol relapse is generally believed to happen in three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. The first two steps signify the progression towards an actual relapse, while the last stage is the actual participation in drinking alcohol.
Stage One: Emotional Relapse
An emotional relapse is when a person’s emotions and behaviors begin to steer him or her away from recovery. He or she may not be actually thinking about or planning to drink during this stage.
Common signs of an emotional relapse include:
- mood swings
- not going to as many 12-step meetings
- not asking for help
- poor eating and sleeping habits
Stage Two: Mental Relapse
A mental relapse is the next stage of an alcohol relapse and is when a person begins to experience cravings for alcohol. Someone may initially think about using alcohol idly and, if the situation is not addressed, may progress to actually planning to drink.
Symptoms of a mental relapse may include:
- glamorizing past alcohol use
- hanging out with people you used to drink with
- fantasizing about drinking alcohol
- planning out a relapse
- experiencing cravings
Stage Three: Physical Relapse
If nothing is done to combat the emotional and mental relapse stages, a person will ly progress on to the physical relapse stage. A physical relapse is when a person actually participates in drinking.
Alcohol Relapse Triggers
Alcohol relapses are related to changes in the brain that take place when a person becomes addicted to alcohol. These changes make it difficult to quit drinking and even harder to stay sober for an extended period of time.
While everybody is different, there are a few triggers that seem to be most common among people who have relapsed.
These triggers include:
- withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal symptoms
- certain people, places, and things associated with previous alcohol abuse
- lack of self-care practices
- certain emotions and feelings, such as being angry or lonely
- stressful life situations
Other factors can increase a person’s risk of relapse. For example, quitting or refusing to go to support groups Alcoholic’s Anonymous can set a person up for a relapse. Additionally, feeling overconfident in one’s sobriety or believing that the problem has been kicked can also lead to relapse.
Alcohol Relapse Prevention
The sooner a person takes action to prevent a possible relapse, the more successful he or she will be at staying sober. Early relapse prevention often entails becoming aware of dangerous emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and working to change these.
Another way to prevent alcohol relapse is to participate in aftercare recovery groups such as 12-step meetings. Support groups provide a safe place to share how a person is feeling and to discuss triggers and difficult emotions with other people. Groups AA also give people a place to connect with other individuals who are experiencing the same things.
Asking for help is another step a person can take to prevent a relapse. Reaching out to a sponsor or other trusted individual and talking about urges or cravings can help dispel them.
Other techniques to prevent relapse include practicing regular self-care, participating in relapse prevention programs, and focusing on one day at a time. The more relapse prevention activities a person participates in, the more ly it is that he or she will remain sober.
Getting Treatment After An Alcohol Relapse
Relapsing after a period of sobriety can be incredibly discouraging. However, it’s important to remember that relapse is more often than not just another part of the recovery process. If you or a loved one has relapsed on alcohol, an alcoholism detox treatment program may be beneficial.
For less severe instances of relapse, outpatient treatment or addiction therapy may be recommended. These are less intensive forms of addiction treatment that can help someone get back on track to recovery from an alcohol use disorder.
If a relapse is more severe and a person has been abusing alcohol again for an extended period of time, inpatient treatment is ly the best option. Residential programs are more intensive and allow patients to focus solely on getting and staying sober.
To learn more about the symptoms, triggers, and prevention of an alcohol relapse, contact a treatment specialist today.