- Relapse can happen when trying to make positive changes in any area of life,; it doesn’t necessarily mean failure.
- Warning signs that someone is at risk of relapsing include feeling overwhelmed, lack of support, complacency, lofty goals, and stalled progress.
- Strategies to prevent relapse include creating a structured routine, understanding why relapse happened, and identifying a support system.
- Developing an effective relapse prevention plan is an ongoing process.
Relapsing is a common occurrence in the recovery process. Not all people who enter recovery will remain abstinent forever. However, some strategies can be used to reduce the chances of relapse and maintain sobriety.
It’s essential to understand why individuals relapse and how to help prevent it. Here, we explore how to create a relapse prevention plan and the rules to follow to ensure success in recovery.
What is Relapse?
Relapse refers to returning to old behavior or thinking patterns after progressing towards a healthier lifestyle. This is especially common in addiction recovery, but it can also refer to any personal growth or healing.
Relapse can manifest in different ways depending on the particular issue being faced. For example, someone recovering from substance abuse may have a relapse when they start using substances again.
Someone trying to change their diet may relapse if they return to unhealthy eating habits. And someone struggling with depression may have a relapse if they find themselves back in an isolated and negative headspace. In all cases, however, it’s important to remember that relapse doesn’t necessarily mean failure; it just means you need to adjust your approach and try something new.
Signs You Are at Risk of Relapsing
If you are progressing towards healing or personal growth but feel like you could be at risk of relapsing, several signs can help you identify the potential problem areas. Some of these warning signs include feeling overwhelmed by the effort required to stay on track; feeling like you don’t have enough support from family and friends; getting complacent about the progress you’ve already made; feeling like your goals are too lofty or unrealistic; or feeling like your progress has stalled out.
If any of these signs sound familiar, then you need to take steps as soon as possible to avoid slipping back into an old pattern of behavior or thought process.
The Rules to Follow
Fortunately, several strategies can help protect against relapse and keep you on track with your goals and objectives:
Establish Structure & Routines
Structure plays a vital role in maintaining sobriety. Daily routines will help keep life organized and focus attention away from substance use. This could include exercise, yoga/meditation, hobbies such as art or music, or even setting aside time each day for self-care, such as reading or listening to a podcast.
Moreover, joining structured sober living programs can also be beneficial as these are designed to give individuals the support and structure needed to maintain sobriety. The program will be designed specifically to meet your needs, and the staff will provide guidance and assistance on succeeding.
Understand Why You Relapsed
It’s important to think back on what led you to your relapse. Was it a particular person? An event? Stress or anxiety? A particular emotion? Understanding these triggers is vital in preventing future relapse. Once you’re aware of your triggers, you can make plans for when faced with them again.
Understanding the cause of your relapse can also help you to identify ways to stay sober and prevent future relapses. This may mean avoiding certain people or situations or finding healthier ways to cope with stress or emotions.
Identify Your Support System
Having people around you who understand and support your recovery journey is essential for staying on track—having someone to turn to when faced with temptation or feeling vulnerable will be invaluable. This could be a friend, family member, therapist, or sponsor – anyone who knows about your struggles and can provide guidance when needed. In times of need, your support system can give you a shoulder to lean on and help you get through challenging moments.
The Bottom Line
Relapse prevention involves understanding why relapses occur and creating coping strategies, so they don’t happen again. By following the three rules outlined here – understanding why you relapsed, identifying your support system, and establishing structure & routines – you will be well-equipped with the tools necessary for a successful recovery from addiction. Developing an effective relapse prevention plan is an ongoing proc, but by taking small steps toward this goal day, you will achieve lasting sobriety!
Bernard is a recreational lone traveler, looking for the next hiking adventure ideally in the winter/spring seasons. His favorite hiking locations are the Philippines, Hong Kong and the Kansai Area of Japan. He published his travels on his Youtube Channel “Wandelust” for the most important person in his life – his Mom.