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Drug Relapse Prevention Tips and Tools
Relapse prevention strategies are tools that help you stay clean after you leave a residential treatment center. Your therapist can help you create a plan to move forward without addiction and reduce the chance of relapse. Most people are better equipped to handle situations, urges and cravings when transitioning out of treatment with a comprehensive relapse prevention plan in place.
Recovery.org reports that some everyday activities and exercises can help prevent relapse; many of them are best on cognitive behavioral therapy.
Replace the addiction
Eliminating dependence is easier if there is something else to put in its place. Addiction should be substituted with an enjoyable or gratifying activity. It could be indulging in a favorite snack, spending time with family or finding a new hobby.
Understanding addiction triggers is critical to effective self-monitoring. When caught in a situation that contains triggers, such as people, a location or specific stressors, the ability to handle the feelings they cause and manage them is a big part of relapse prevention.
Support groups and 12-step programs continue to exist because they work. Sharing experiences and finding people who understand the challenges of addiction has a positive effect on your recovery. Structured programs also help individuals work through the guilt and anger over the addiction and actions that may have hurt loved ones.
There are also small exercises for relapse prevention that can become habits, which will improve the chances of staying on the recovery path:
- Splash cold water on the face to reset
- Use chores, phone conversations, exercises and similar activities as a distraction until the desire passes
- Do some belly breathing exercises to calm down and get through a craving
- Indulge in a nice dinner or small gifts as a reward for not relapsing
Develop a relapse prevention plan
Therapists at treatment centers typically work with patients to develop personalized prevention roadmaps before being discharged. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, comprehensive plans help individuals develop coping mechanisms to address the various stages of relapse.
Prior behavior and emotions often set people up for relapse down the road. Signs include isolation from a support group, not sharing at meetings, bottling up feelings and having poor eating or sleeping habits, resulting in lack of self-care.
For those in recovery, there is often a tug-of-war going on inside. Part of them knows that using is bad, and another part does not care. The harder the struggle, the more likely the addict is to give in to cravings. Thoughts about the places and people associated with during a time of using, and bargaining or planning how to use without getting caught, are sure signs of a person on the verge of mental relapse.
This is when those in recovery “fall off the wagon.” It is generally due to opportunity, either when the individual feels they will not get caught, or the recovery plan does not cover the situation. Learning the coping skills needed to resist the cravings can also help a person recognize when there is a need for help.
A relapse prevention plan can give you ideas for staying strong and maximize your chances of living an addiction-free, healthy life.
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