You might think that alcohol or drug relapse prevention is about developing the ability to say no to your chemical of choice. However, a person who struggles with chemical dependency may not be able to say no to every temptation, so prevention actually starts well before the opportunity for relapse occurs. In fact, a comprehensive plan accounts for social interactions, emotional triggers and the development of positive coping mechanisms.
Staying Sober Is Not a Solo Gig
According to studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men experience relapses more frequently than women do after completing treatment programs for drug addiction. The main reason for this difference seems to be that women are more likely to seek outside assistance in the form of group counseling. Whether you are dealing with drug or alcohol relapse prevention, staying sober is not a solo gig. At a time when individuals are feeling isolated by the disease process itself, it is essential that they interact on a regular basis with other people who are able to recognize issues and offer moral support. Other benefits of a support group include:
- Gaining assistance with alcohol or drug relapse prevention plans
- Reducing stress or depression through appropriate social interactions
- Developing positive friendships with individuals who will not encourage drug or alcohol use
- Learning to empower yourself and develop control
- Engaging with an anonymous source of support and communication
If you are struggling with addiction relapse prevention and need to talk to someone, call 1-888-966-8334
Understanding Relapse Warning Signs
The best way to prevent sudden relapse is to understand warning signs and factors that commonly lead to relapse.
In some cases, relapse can occur suddenly, and individuals struggling with drug or alcohol cravings can give in without reaching out for help. The best way to prevent sudden relapse is to understand warning signs of addiction and factors that commonly lead to relapse. Factors vary for each person and situation, but relapse causes include emotional triggers, social situations and physical changes.
Some specific situations that can lead to relapse include:
- Loss of a loved one
- Major financial changes
- Change in employment
- Social pressures or conflicts
- Change in marital status
- Boredom with life
- Health issues
Warning signs that a person is entering a danger zone related to relapse include:
- Socializing with individuals from drinking or drug-use days
- Sudden changes in routine, especially missing work, doctor's appointments or support meetings
- Exhibiting obsessive behavior in any area of life
- Avoiding responsibilities or issues
- Feelings of anxiety, worry or confusion
- Changes in personal hygiene, sleep or appetite
- Exhibiting excessive anger
- Perfectionism in home or work life
- Obsessing over drugs or alcohol
If you are dealing with any of these situations or signs and want to find out more about proven drug and alcohol relapse prevention methods, we can help. Call 1-888-966-8334 to discuss rehab treatment and recovery options today.
Developing a Plan of Action for Addiction Relapse Prevention
An important factor in planning for relapse prevention is to understand that you cannot control everything. You can't dictate what other people will do and say, you can't control what you might see on the television and you can't hide in the safety of your home forever. While you can make positive decisions to minimize relapse triggers in your life, there may be times when you must deal with strong cravings. According to Dual Recovery Anonymous, certain actions can be beneficial during a time of craving.
Experts recommend calling someone who is also in recovery as soon as you experience a craving or feel like you are unable to control your craving. This is the basis of the sponsorship structure popular with programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. You know what they say about the best-laid plans, though, so actually writing your plan out as a reference point can be helpful.
Consider creating an index card you can carry with you in a wallet, purse or pocket. On one side, record the names and phone numbers for several people you can call as soon as you experience any sort of craving. Although you certainly want to include sponsors and hotline numbers on that card, you can also include contact information for supportive family members and friends. Sometimes, enjoying a funny conversation or sharing your emotions can redirect your mind, allowing you to move on from the craving in a positive manner. On the other side of the index card, write down five things you can do if you start to experience cravings. Options might include attending a recovery meeting, jogging, reaching out to your higher power or engaging in a social activity.
Avoidance Is an Effective Tool
According to a study published in The American Journal on Addictions, avoidance behavior is one of the most successful addiction-relapse prevention tools. Although it is not healthy to avoid issues related to finances, relationships or physical health, avoiding what some refer to as slippery situations can help reduce the chance that you will experience cravings or pressures to use drugs or alcohol. If possible, avoid locations where your chemical of choice is prevalent or easy to access. For some, this means avoiding bars or clubs. For others, it might mean avoiding the homes of certain friends or family members. Choosing not to hang out with anyone who abuses drugs or alcohol is also a good idea. If you cannot avoid a situation where temptation may arise, consider using a buddy system by asking a close friend, family member or sponsor to attend the event with you. Call our addiction recovery helpline today at 1-888-966-8334 to learn more about addiction recovery and relapse prevention options.
Making Progress Every Day
It may sound like relapse prevention will be a daily struggle for your entire life. Don't be discouraged, however. With each day and each small success, it will get easier, and your cravings will not always be so strong. The key is taking positive and appropriate action each time you struggle with your addiction. For help or additional information about alcohol and drug relapse prevention, please call our hotline toll-free at 1-888-966-8334.
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