Relapse is a term that you often hear during treatment at a drug or alcohol rehab, and preventing it after you leave is a major concern. What is relapse prevention? Relapse prevention is understanding the processes and warning signs that lead to relapse, and how to stop it before it happens.
What are the Signs of Relapse?
You may think of relapse as an event that happens suddenly. In fact, there are signs that you are heading towards a relapse. Relapses begin with thinking. You may find yourself disappointed with your current situation. You may feel resentful or deprived. When these feelings arise, it’s common to think that your addiction would make you feel better. Thoughts may not even begin with your addiction. You may find yourself tempted to use the coping behaviors that you learned in addiction that are unhealthy, like isolating yourself or lying.
At this point, you will start feeling cravings. These may start off seeming insignificant. A thought here and there. Noticing things that remind you of your drug of choice. You begin to lose hope in your recovery or feel that it just isn’t worth the fight. Cravings get stronger. Then you find yourself taking risky action.
This is when it gets serious. You are on the verge of relapse, but you may still find it difficult to admit. On the other hand, you may be aware but simply feel hopeless. You may ask yourself “what is relapse prevention going to accomplish, I’m just going to end up doing it anyway.” Either of these thought patterns can lead to relapse, particularly when you move to the risky behavior stage.
Risky behavior can be speaking to people who use drugs, going to your old hangouts, or even neglecting your responsibilities. They are things that you know put you closer to relapsing. You may tell yourself that giving in “just this once” will help ease your cravings. If you don’t take action, you will relapse. However, if you do experience a relapse, it doesn’t mean your recovery is over. Pull yourself back on track with as little guilt as possible. Being burdened with guilt will only hinder your recovery.
What is a relapse prevention strategy? These are strategies that you employ to avoid relapse. If you can turn things around before the risky behavior stage, it will be much easier. This means being aware of falling back into old behavior patterns as well as negative thoughts. There are a few things you can do to avoid relapse.
First, seek support. Call your sponsor. Talk with understanding friends and family members. Attend meetings. When you first start feeling cravings or having thoughts about relapsing, seeking support can help remind you why you chose to quit. Others can offer a perspective that can be lost when you are in the middle of the situation.
Secondly, think positive. This is, of course, easier said than done. However, relapse is a process. What is relapse prevention? It is a process as well. It’s a process of continually seeking support from your support system and working to change your thoughts and behavior patterns. When you notice you’re going back to the old behavior, stop and change it to healthy behavior.
When you find yourself in a negative thought pattern, change it. Replace it with positive thoughts or find a healthy distraction. Doing these three things in a balanced way is key to relapse prevention. Over time, they become habitual, just like the negative behaviors were, and relapse prevention becomes easier.
Relapse Prevention at Acqua Recovery
At Acqua Recovery, we believe that relapse prevention should be a part of treatment. We work with you to teach healthy coping skills and offer therapy services during and after rehab. Our support team will help you to get clean, and help you to remain clean by staying in contact when rehab is over. If you are experiencing a relapse or are ready to begin your recovery, contact us today at 866.830.4628.