Creating a relapse prevention plan is an important step in recovery. It's relevant to note that relapse isn't an event—it's a process. To avoid falling into relapse, you have to be able to identify and understand the stages of relapse. A prevention plan can help you in this process.
There's no wrong way to create a prevention plan. It can be simple and short or long and detailed. In both cases, it's important to not become overwhelmed by it. Below are some tips that can help you in the creation of a personalized relapse prevention plan.
The Stages of Relapse
As previously mentioned, before you can make a plan, you need to understand how relapse works. The three main stages are emotional, mental and physical. By understanding these stages, it's easier to spot a relapse before it happens. In fact, the stages of relapse start weeks before an actual, physical relapse occurs.
Cravings refer to the urge to use drugs or alcohol. These cravings often start out subtle and then build over time. Many times, they become more intense during times of anger, depression or stress. Removing as many of these negative emotions from your life as possible can help you manage your cravings.
People typically confuse the urge to use with a need to use. The best time to take action is in between cravings. It's this break that gives you time to exercise your coping skills and set yourself up for success. Over time, the distance between these cravings should increase so that you can manage them easier.
Spotting Warning Signs
Understanding the warning signs of relapse can help you take a step back and re-evaluate before a physical relapse happens. Building a relapse prevention plan makes noticing warning signs easier. Some of the common ones include:
- Hanging around people or places where you use to use
- Skipping support meetings or doctor's appointments
- Feeling stressed out
- Thinking about using drugs or alcohol
- Isolating yourself
- Major changes in your life.
While these aren't the only warning signs to look out for, they are some you should include in your relapse prevention plan.
Remember to HALT
Avoiding a relapse means avoiding high-risk situations. Common risks can be summed up in the acronym HALT, which stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Being in these situations can increase your urge to use. When creating a prevention plan, come up with ways that you can avoid putting yourself in these situations.
While recovering from addiction, people sometimes feel that they're not worthy of praise or rewards. However, rewarding yourself is a helpful tool that can keep you on the path to recovery. Come up with small rewards for short-term milestones and larger rewards for long-term goals.
Create a Support System
Another important step in creating a relapse prevention plan is developing a support system. Surround yourself with a network of people you can count on when your need to use kicks in. This support system can be made up of friends, family or a support group like NA or AA. Creating a support system also means cutting ties with people who put you in unhealthy situations.
Don't Dwell on Setbacks
The road to recovery is long, and setbacks are bound to happen along the way. Your prevention plan should remind you not to dwell on these setbacks. Losing faith in yourself at every slip up creates more stress and more urges to use. Any time you relapse, come up with a way to avoid that setback in the future, and add it to your plan.
Get Help With a Relapse Prevention Plan at Pinnacle Peak Recovery
If you're suffering from addiction, you don't have to face it alone. Pinnacle Peak Recovery in Scottsdale, Arizona helps those suffering from addictions get back on the road to recovery. We have local partners that aid in the detox process as well. Our staff provides programs such as sober living, traditional living, and primary and extended care. We also offer dual diagnosis treatment to make sure we get to the root of the problem.