Relapse prevention is the singular focus of programs at Recovery First, and it should be the focus of all addicts and alcoholics worldwide. Relapse prevention generally consists of various therapies and treatments that are combined with a rigorous daily recovery program that the individual must proactively nurture and grow. While each person’s triggers, stress management techniques, therapy needs and overall recovery program must be customized to the individual, the following components often comprise the most successful relapse prevention plans:
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Strong Support Network
A strong support network is the backbone of any successful relapse prevention plan. This can include family members and friends, other people in recovery, groups and communities that support recovery or a clean lifestyle, AA and NA sponsors, etc. Addicts who are actively using often withdraw from people that have a positive impact on their life, so the opposite policy must be followed during recovery: addicts and alcoholics must seek out and deliberately spend time with people who understand addiction/alcoholism and who wholeheartedly support the efforts of those in recovery.
For more detailed information about this element of a relapse prevention plan, check out our article about Support Networks in Recovery from Addiction.
Exercise & Nutrition
Many people in recovery fail to understand how important a proper diet and exercise is to a successful relapse prevention program. However, eating right and staying fit is critical considering that the disease of addiction is neurological in nature. Neurons in our brain and our central nervous system must be well lubricated, (read; drink lots of water), have access to energy (read; proper diet), and be able to obtain life-supporting systems such as red blood cells and proteins needed to perform complex functions (read; exercise).
When the body isn’t functioning correctly as a result of poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, the chances of a relapse increase as the addict isn’t in an ideal state to deal with the stresses and pressures of everyday living with the disease of addiction.
For more detailed information about this element of a relapse prevention plan, refer to this article http://recoveryfirst.org/the-secrets-to-long-term-recovery-from-addiction-or-alcoholism.html/
Post Acute Withdrawal Management
Post Acute Withdrawal, also called protracted withdrawal, post withdrawal and known by the acronym of PAWS, is a condition that sets in shortly after detox from drugs or alcohol has been completed. The symptoms of PAWS are varied but in most cases are combined with an inexplicable desire to use that many addicts are unable to ignore. In fact, it’s likely that all relapses are caused by PAWS.
Consequently, PAWS management must be made a crucial part of any relapse prevention program. But before you can manage this condition, you must understand it. Click here to read a comprehensive article about the Symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.
Access to Therapy
All addicts must have access to therapy. Even if it’s been years since you used drugs or drank, if your emotional, mental or spiritual condition suddenly falters and you find yourself longing for the feeling of your drug of choice, having quick access to therapy is critical in order to prevent a relapse episode. Therapy is different for everyone and may consist of Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, Reality Therapy, Biofeedback Therapy, Family Therapy and other types of Behavioral Therapy and Evidence Based Practices.
Proper Motivation / Positive Preoccupation
In order to make a relapse prevention plan work, people in recovery must find meaningful things to do with their lives. Whether this consists of excelling at a career, taking classes, exploring artistic outlets, traveling or any other healthy preoccupation, staying mentally and physically active is critical for all people in recovery.
A successful relapse prevention program actively recognizes threats and seeks to neutralize them. Environmental threats can come in the form of poor living conditions, lack of suitable housing, lack of employment opportunities, a crime-ridden neighborhood, constant associations with people who use drugs or drink, a stressful workplace or home life; all of these environmental stresses can be triggers that cause an addict to relapse. Therefore, a relapse prevention plan must take this into account, and addicts must be prepared to make dramatic changes in order to mitigate these and other threats.
While there are many other important aspects of an effective relapse prevention program, these are the most critical when it comes to the success of any long term recovery efforts. If you or someone you love has already relapsed and needs help, please see our page on Relapse Prevention, or call the number at the top of your screen for an immediate, confidential consultation and assessment.