Maintaining a healthy recovery means having a coordinated strategy to avert a relapse. Understanding your role in creating your Relapse Prevention Plan can make it that much more effective.
When you make the decision to get addiction treatment, you want the results of your hard work to last for a lifetime. Therefore, your treatment programme will not only address the immediate needs of the addiction, but also orient you to the long-term commitments necessary for staying sober in the form of a ‘Relapse Prevention Plan’.
Being an active participant in this process can help you regain the control that you lost during dependency, and benefit from a deeper understanding of the work that needs to be done in order to effectively manage your addiction.
How Elements of Your Addiction Treatment Protect Against the Potential for Relapse
Following an initial detox period, many addiction treatment programmes typically focus on helping people understand the root causes of their addiction while also developing a set of tools and coping mechanisms by which to manage stress and deal with life’s challenges. To accomplish these goals, treatment programmes use a variety of techniques designed to rewire the brain away from addiction, changing unhealthy patterns of thought and behaviour in order to support a new, healthy lifestyle.
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a cornerstone of many addiction treatment programs. CBT works by examining current thoughts and behaviours, exploring how those may be causing problems, and raising alternatives for action. This type of talk therapy is highly effective for those looking to recover from addiction because it allows the person to see the true nature of their addiction and be a part of creating a path away from it.
Identifying co-occurring disorders
It is not uncommon for those living with addiction to also have a co-occurring disorder, another mental health issue that may be underlying or caused by the addiction. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are just a few mental health conditions that have been linked to an increased risk for substance abuse. Identifying and treating this co-occurring disorder alongside the addiction is critical in ensuring a lasting recovery.
Encouraging healthy lifestyle changes
Developing new healthy habits to manage stress and improve overall physical and mental health is also a fundamental part of most addiction treatment programs. Your addiction counsellor may suggest participating in fitness classes, beginning an outdoor exercise regime, picking up new or past hobbies that play to your creative side, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Your diet can also have a profound impact on your mental health, and eating healthy foods is critical in achieving a full recovery, balancing your mood, and strengthening your ability to tolerate stress.
What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A relapse prevention plan is a strategy that you will develop together with your focal therapist in order to understand what relapse is, how it happens, and what to do in order to mitigate the risk of a relapse. There are several key elements of a relapse prevention plan including:
- Being able to recognise when you are in a high-risk situation for relapse, and knowing how to handle it. This could include going to a place where you used to use, or coming into contact with a known trigger.
- Exploring the nature of relapse, its role in recovery, and how to come back from a relapse if one occurs
- Developing a communication plan if you are experiencing cravings or starting to consider using again
- Building self-esteem, confidence, and attentiveness to self-care in order to create a strong defense against relapse
Your focal therapist will expand upon each of these points so that you are able to see a relapse coming, anticipate what you will need to do, and lean into your support system.
How Can You Be Active in Relapse Prevention?
Relapse prevention is most effective when you are a consistent and active participant in helping to create a prevention plan. While your therapist will guide the process using both their training and experience to facilitate your discussions, you can help by monitoring your thoughts and feelings and acting in ways that are in the best interests of your ongoing health.
Be Aware of the Warning Signs of Relapse
Each person has a different set of red flags that will indicate if they are headed towards a relapse. Making a list of your triggers can help you to be more aware of them and encourage further thinking on how to avoid them. If some of these triggers are unavoidable, for example you are having problems in your relationship, or you’re in a particularly stressful time at work, it is important to consider how this is impacting your recovery.
The warning signs might be subtle – you are not attending your support group regularly, or you are starting to put yourself into potentially triggering situations because you feel like you need to let loose a little. Being aware and honest with yourself about how these could affect your sobriety can help prevent a potential relapse.
Communicate Openly and Honestly
While it’s relatively easy to be open in your communication when you are feeling confident in your recovery, it can be significantly more challenging when you’re struggling with stress and a potential relapse. Addiction is an isolating disorder, and when you’re on the brink of a relapse your addiction will be telling you that what you’re feeling isn’t a big deal, and you don’t need to tell anybody.
Identifying these thoughts as part of an old, unhealthy pattern and committing to regular, honest communication with yourself and your chosen support system is critical in helping to avoid a relapse.
Set and Pursue Your Own Goals
Your focal therapist will work with you to help you set goals that you’d like to achieve now that your life is free from addiction. However, it is up to you to choose goals that are important and meaningful to you, and to commit to these in your everyday life. Being proactive in pursuing your goals helps to reinforce healthy patterns of behavior, and reduce the risk of relapse.
Understand that a Relapse Isn’t the End of Your Recovery
There are many reasons why avoiding relapse is important. Relapses can be dangerous to your physical health, and demoralizing for your overall recovery. However, if a relapse does occur, it’s important not to see it as a failure, but as a part of the recovery process that needs to be immediately addressed. Addiction specialists understand that relapses do occur and are well positioned to help you continue with a healthy recovery if a relapse happens.
Overcoming Addiction at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a Chiang Mai, Thailand rehab centre that serves an international client base, and fosters an environment of personal growth and healing for people who want to change their lives and overcome addiction or mental health issues.
Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International, and staffed by an international group of compassionate professionals, The Dawn offers tailormade treatment plans that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method and modern techniques with proven results.
The Dawn’s Relapse Assurance Policy
The Dawn is the only drug and alcohol rehab Thailand to offer a unique Relapse Assurance Warranty. If a client completes 12 weeks in treatment and then relapses within one year, we are happy to have them return for 28 days at no additional cost. During this time, our staff will identify why the relapse occurred and help you get back on track.
Call The Dawn today to learn more about our unique and effective addiction treatment.