Relapse Prevention Techniques for Addicts in Recovery

Familiarize Yourself with Relapse Prevention Techniques

According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), forty to sixty percent of addicts in recovery will relapse. Because of the chronic nature of this disease, it is “not only possible but also likely” due to the fact that the disease is chronic. Why some individuals relapse is still unclear – there is no scientific reason why. Addiction is a very complex illness, but with the proper relapse prevention techniques, one may have a better chance of remaining sober.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

In order for one to remain sober, they must make their sobriety a top priority each and every day of their lives. Not picking up a drink or doing drugs is of the utmost importance for the day. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine says there are four main ideas in relapse prevention:

  • Relapse is a gradual process marked by distinct stages. The goal in treatment is to help people recognize the early stages of relapse.
  • The recovery process is very personal and about growth marked by milestones. Each stage has its own risks of relapse.
  • Mind-body relaxation and cognitive therapy are used to develop healthy relapse coping skills and are the main tools for relapse prevention.
  • Educating individuals about the few basic rules that explain relapse may help them maintain sobriety.
  1. Change your life. It obviously was not working out properly before treatment, so it must be altered. You must focus on what is important.
  2. Honesty is key.
  3. If you need help, ask.
  4. Self-care must be practiced.
  5. Do not bend the rules.

One must understand that relapse is a gradual process that may begin weeks or months before the actual relapse occurs. Being prepared with relapse prevention coping skills may help one spot the warning signs and avoid the relapse. There are three stages of relapse – emotional, mental, and physical.

Emotional Relapse

During this phase, individuals are not overcome by thoughts about using so denial plays a large part of emotional relapse. Mostly, individuals remember the last relapse and do not want to repeat the event. Signs to look out for:

  • bottling up emotions;
  • becoming isolated;
  • skipping meetings; or
  • not sharing at meetings;
  • mainly focusing on the problems of other people and/or how those people affect them;
  • bad sleeping habits;
  • bad eating habits.

The main sign of emotional relapse is when the individual exhibits poor self-care. Meaning that they do not tend to their emotional, physical, and/or psychological needs. It is helpful to be in therapy. Among the many relapse prevention activities, therapy is of the utmost importance. During therapy, the main goal should be to help the individual understand why self-care is important and what, exactly, that means. The consequence of prolonged, poor self-care is mental relapse. Denial is most definitely a factor here.

Mental Relapse

In this phase, the individual is torn between using and remaining sober. The individual is feeling irritable, restless and uncomfortable. Signs to look out for:

  • cravings;
  • thinking about past drug use and people and places associated with that time;
  • glamorizing past drug use;
  • bargaining;
  • lying;
  • scheming and planning how to better control their using;
  • looking for an opportunity to relapse;
  • planning the relapse.

While it is impossible to erase the memories of the days when they used to use drugs or alcohol, good relapse prevention techniques may help the person learn to let go of those thoughts.

Physical Relapse

This phase is when the individual physically begins to use drugs or alcohol again. Most relapses are born from opportunity. Sometimes, there is a small window where one figures they can use and not get caught.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

There are different techniques one may utilize when trying to avoid relapse. Some relapse prevention activities include the following:

  • set boundaries;
  • challenge fears with therapy and relaxation;
  • give back and help others;
  • behavioral therapy;
  • attend meetings.

If you feel you are on the brink of a relapse, contact White Sands Tampa to discuss your options with a treatment specialist. Recovery is for life. Always ask for help if you need it.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.