Many people consider the end of detox and rehab as finishing recovery. Due to this mindset, relapses happen frequently during early recovery. However, recovery is a life-long process, so developing a long-term relapse prevention plan following detox and treatment gives you a higher chance of success.
What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?
When you enter residential treatment, health professionals may diagnose your condition and design a personalized treatment plan. The purpose is to move you toward sobriety. Once you achieve early sobriety, the journey of recovery turns to a new page—relapse prevention.
A relapse prevention plan is a toolkit to help you maintain sobriety. It includes various methods, techniques, accountability structures, and tools to help you manage stress, control cravings, and avoid relapses. By the end of your time in treatment, you will be able to put many of these techniques into practice to help you identify triggers and activate healthy coping mechanisms.
This plan can be a written or verbal one. Ideally, a recovery expert or a therapist who is familiar with your condition and background can work with you in developing a plan specific to your circumstances. Implementing this plan is what will help keep you sober long after completing treatment.
Why Do Relapses Happen Even After Treatment?
In reality, many people who work through addiction recovery treatment experience relapses. Relapses do not equal failure, they simply mean that you may need additional treatment, support, or planning built into your aftercare plan.
Relapses tend to follow a pattern with early warning signs meant to spur you into action. First, you may go through an emotional stage of relapse when certain trigger situations or challenging events put you in a state of mind that makes you vulnerable to cravings and triggers to use. Recognizing this stage is critical for implementing strategies to prevent relapses.
Without catching the signs of an emotional relapse, you might slide to a mental stage of relapse, negotiating and bargaining with yourself while minimizing the harmful effects of substances. Again, recognizing the signs that you’ve entered this stage is a critical part of putting relapse-prevention strategies in motion. If left unchecked, emotional and mental relapses can lead to physical relapses, where you engage with substances again.
Why Do I Need a Relapse Prevention Plan?
A residential rehab facility can offer the most intensive care for you to detox and achieve sobriety. It is a relatively controlled environment with health professionals monitoring your withdrawal symptoms and daily regimen. You also have a support group with shared experiences.
Once you return home, things might become more challenging. You have more freedom and less structure and accountability. It is easy to turn back to unhealthy habits. Although it is good to relax in your own home, navigating post-treatment life can be difficult. Without a relapse prevention plan, you are ill-equipped to manage and resist triggers.
Without proper planning and skills to cope with triggers and cravings, your newly-recovered mind and body are vulnerable to relapse. You may have changed after rehab, but often your circumstances, environment, and social circles haven’t, so you must have a relapse prevention plan in place to help you navigate things that might once have caused you to use or drink.
What Does a Relapse Prevention Plan Include?
For a relapse prevention plan to be effective, it should help you recognize your most common triggers and stressors. Maybe you are most vulnerable in moments of boredom or social pressures. Come up with coping skills specific to each situation and trigger. Create a list of places and people to avoid to maintain sobriety.
Your relapse prevention plan should also include a list of people who can keep you accountable. These can be family members and friends who are supportive of your recovery and will keep you in check if you start slipping.
This plan should also list locations and meeting times of support group meetings. You should commit to a certain regularity, no matter how good you feel about your recovery status. Even if you do not feel you need further help from these groups, you can stay engaged by being there for others with support, accountability, and encouragement.
If you follow the daily regimen and lifestyle changes in a relapse plan, you can achieve a healthy lifestyle, which brings stability into your at-home recovery phase. Relapses do not happen overnight. When you get stuck with negative thought patterns or ignore healthy habits, stress and anxiety might trigger an emotional relapse. If you can detect these patterns and implement plans to manage them, you can always regain sobriety even in the middle of the cycle of relapse.
Successful recovery is one and done, and relapses are not failures. Recovery is a journey of personal growth, and continued growth requires aftercare planning. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can guide you through recovery with an emphasis on the importance of relapse prevention. If you want to work with recovery specialists to rebuild a healthy lifestyle and surround yourself with positive people and relationships, our residential facility is the best place to be. Creating strong bonds with people in recovery who have similar struggles as you is an essential part of the process. Laguna Shores helps refine customized treatment plans to meet an individual’s needs to set them up for the best recovery possible. Our full medical and residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, and 12-Step programs. Call us at (866) 906-3203.