Relapsing back into old habits of substance use can be common, so relapse prevention plans are an important tool for all those in recovery.

When putting together a relapse prevention plan, it’s important to identify your own personal relapse triggers. This means recognizing certain situations or feelings that could lead you down the path toward relapse. Once identified, it’s crucial to come up with ways to manage these triggers and stay away from relapse. Strategies may include healthy coping mechanisms such as exercise, talking with supportive people, journaling, or practicing mindfulness techniques.

What is Relapse?

Relapse is when someone returns to their old behaviors after having achieved a period of abstinence. It can be due to many reasons, including relapse triggers that weren’t effectively managed, lack of access to support or resources, and changes in medication or other treatments.

Relapse does not necessarily mean failure and it’s important for those in recovery to understand that relapse prevention plans are an ongoing and necessary commitment.

Why is Relapse Prevention Important?

Relapse prevention programs are designed to help individuals maintain long-term sobriety by providing them with the skills, resources, and support they need. These programs teach relapse prevention strategies such as identifying relapse triggers, managing cravings and stress, maintaining healthy relationships, finding meaningful activities, and developing relapse prevention activities.

Addiction is considered a chronic relapsing disease. This is because relapse is very common. The only way to truly achieve long-lasting recovery is to maintain sobriety. Therefore, developing a relapse prevention plan is an important part of our drug rehab programs in NH and can help individuals stay the course.

What are Some Reasons Why People Relapse?

The reasons why people relapse vary from person to person, but some common causes include:

  • Social pressures can cause people to feel the need to celebrate or bond by engaging in drinking or other forms of substance abuse. Social situations commonly cause relapse to occur.
  • Stress is also another common cause as people experience stress from work or home life. This can be a huge trigger especially if someone previously handled stress by engaging in substance abuse.
  • Boredom or being lonely can also trigger someone to relapse as they may feel like they have nothing better to do.
  • Unresolved trauma, mental illness, or other negative emotions can also cause someone to relapse. This goes back to not accurately addressing the underlying causes of addiction. Mental illness needs to be properly treated in order to prevent a relapse.
  • Insufficient relapse planning can also cause a person to relapse as they are unprepared to manage triggers and have not developed sufficient coping mechanisms to handle life outside of a treatment setting.
  • Lack of support from loved ones can also cause a person to feel alone as they engage on their journey to sobriety. If someone does not have a support system they can begin to question why they are choosing to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

What Does HALT Mean in Relapse Prevention?

You may have heard the acronym HALT as another way to remember the most common reasons why someone would relapse. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Basically, it reminds us that more intense emotions have the ability to cause relapse. HALT is very commonly referred to in 12-step meetings like NA and AA, and many rehab programs use it as well. It’s meant to be thought of as a reminder to HALT (or stop) if you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.

During a relapse prevention program, individuals learn to recognize what will cause ultimately cause them to relapse. Relapse prevention planning helps them strategize to avoid people, places, and things that could be detrimental to their recovery.

Relapse Prevention Programs

relapse program new hampshireRelapse prevention programs are a form of continued education following successful addiction treatment. These programs provide relapse prevention tools and relapse management strategies to those in recovery. This helps them identify potential relapse triggers while developing the skills necessary to cope with these triggers in a positive manner.

Relapse prevention programs typically involve group counseling sessions, individual therapy sessions, medication management, relapse prevention skill-building activities, family therapy sessions, and relapse triggers identification.

By teaching relapse prevention techniques such as relapse warning signs recognition, the individual in recovery is better prepared to recognize when they are at risk of relapse and can address any issues that arise before relapse occurs. In addition, these programs can provide helpful coping strategies to manage stress, cravings, and other challenges faced by those recovering from substance use disorders.

Relapse prevention programs can be an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan for long-term sobriety. By providing education and relapse prevention skills to those in recovery, individuals can gain the tools necessary to reach their goal of lasting sobriety. Of course, it’s also important to have continued support from counselors, family members, and friends throughout the recovery process.

Other Benefits of Relapse Prevention Programs

Relapse prevention programs can also provide essential resources such as support groups, which allow individuals to discuss their experiences with people who are in similar situations. In addition, relapse prevention programs may also include individual counseling sessions where individuals can focus on addressing issues that may have led them to relapse initially. Finally, relapse prevention programs can help individuals build skills necessary for navigating life’s daily stressors and learning how to become more productive and successful.

Relapse prevention programs will not only help an individual steer clear of substance abuse, but they have to power to teach individuals how to recognize when their lives begin to become chaotic and how to manage the impact effectively. People become more well-rounded and effective in their careers and relationships with others.

How Can I Prevent Relapse?

Relapse prevention is an ongoing process that requires commitment and dedication. There are many ways to prevent relapse, including:

  • Developing healthy coping skills and relapse prevention plans to address triggers
  • Connecting with a support system, such as attending recovery meetings or therapy sessions
  • Avoiding high-risk situations and environments that could lead to relapse
  • Leading an overall healthier lifestyle by eating well, getting sufficient sleep, exercising regularly, and managing stress levels.

What Should I Include in a Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention plan should include strategies for managing cravings, identifying relapse triggers, and developing coping skills to deal with stress or other relapse risk factors. It is important to develop a relapse prevention plan that is tailored to the individual in recovery as plans should be based on an individual’s unique needs and challenges.

In addition, relapse prevention plans can also include steps such as:

  • Developing healthy relationships with individuals who do not engage in substance abuse
  • Improving communication skills in daily interactions at work or with loved ones
  • Developing daily routines to keep you on a set path to avoid triggers and stress
  • Participating in activities that promote relaxation and mindfulness to keep your mental space clear and uncluttered
  • Creating emergency contacts who can provide support during times of need

Core Components to Address in Your Relapse Prevention Plan

In order to develop your plan effectively, you should include answers to the following questions in specific terms. By being as detailed as possible it’s more likely you will be able to stick with what you’ve determined.

Triggers include persons, places, and things that can cause you to relapse. You may not be able to identify all of them initially, so it’s important to keep updating your plan as you discover your triggers. To help develop your plan initially ask yourself the following questions:

Which people make me think about drinking or using drugs?

What places did engage in substance abuse? Can I avoid those places?

What feelings and emotions caused me to engage in substance abuse?

Are there any particular holidays or dates that make me want to drink or misuse substances?

It’s impossible to avoid all cravings and triggers. You need to face the reality that you will in fact feel moments of weakness and feel compelled to use. How will stop yourself before that happens?

It’s important to include actionable healthy coping strategies that you will ACTUALLY stick with. If you add “jogging” as a coping strategy but hate jogging, you’ll find this to be highly ineffective. Yes, strategies that include exercising are ultimately best for your health, but if eating an ice cream sundae will keep you from drinking alcohol, then it should be added. You can also include self-care items like getting a massage or a pedicure.

You will inevitably need help from others in order to stay on track. This could be friends or family members you can reach out to for help or a list of local support groups in your area that you can frequent. Creating a long list of support resources can make a world of difference if the first few suddenly become unavailable. You should continue to update this list as you would with your list of triggers.

In most scenarios, you will need to change your routine to make room for new healthy habits and eliminate bad ones. This can include no longer talking to particular people or taking a different route home from work to avoid seeing a particular bar. Whatever this looks like, you should fully examine your daily routine to make sure they are leading you down the right path.

Regularly Updating Your Relapse Prevention Strategies

Relapse prevention planning is an ongoing strategy. Your initial plan may ultimately look much different six months after treatment than it did immediately after leaving the program. This is because life is full of triggers, emotions, and other stressors that will ultimately cause you to rethink your sobriety. You will need to address those as they become apparent.

The good news is that it becomes easier to strategize. As you utilize your newly developed coping skills, they will become more fine-tuned and provide you with a faster ability to overcome triggers. Your new healthy routine will become much more valuable to you, and you’ll want to maintain it more and more.

relapse prevention program new hampshire

Learn More About Our Relapse Prevention Program at Live Free Recovery

By incorporating relapse prevention into the treatment process, individuals are more likely to stay on track toward lasting sobriety. With relapse prevention, relapse is seen not as a failure, but rather as an opportunity to review relapse triggers and reinforce relapse prevention strategies.

Relapse prevention can be used in any stage of recovery to minimize the risk of relapse and maintain positive outcomes. At Live Free Recovery we utilize relapse prevention in all of our treatment programs to help individuals achieve long-lasting recovery. Learn more about our relapse prevention program today!