Relapse is dangerous and should be avoided, if possible. Having a plan in place helps you to avoid relapse and stay safe in recovery by knowing how to respond to situations before they arise.
How to Make a Relapse Prevention Plan
Going through drug treatment can be a painstaking ordeal that most would rather not have to repeat. The truth of the matter is addiction leaves behind its very own mindset making it all the more difficult to maintain abstinence on an ongoing basis. According to the New York State Department of Health, alcohol and drug addictions have chronic, long-term effects that can stay with a person for months, or even years after he or she stops using.
For these reasons, making a relapse prevention plan offers recovering addicts the best chance of ongoing success in the recovery process. A relapse prevention plan acts as a roadmap for dealing with daily life situations and managing temptations to use along the way. While relapse prevention plans can be simple and straightforward, the more time you put into it the better prepared you’ll be.
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Relapse Prevention Plan Components
The addiction mindset breeds its own lifestyle or ways of managing day-to-day life. In effect, a relapse prevention plan contains strategies for implementing a drug-free lifestyle.
According to the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs & Practices, a plan should still cover certain key components:
- Identify your “weak spots” or situations throughout the day that challenge your recovery efforts
- Identify emotional triggers
- List out specific ways for coping with temptations to use
Ultimately, a relapse prevention plan helps you take a proactive approach in managing your recovery.
What to Include in Your Relapse Prevention Plan
Red flags represent high-risk situations, such as old drug hangouts or former drug-using friends that will likely weaken your defenses. Knowing these people, places and activities ahead of time can help in avoiding known problem areas in your day-to-day life.
Habits and routines established when using can quickly creep back into your daily life, especially when boredom or stress sets in. Developing alternative activities ahead of time not only helps in keeping busy, but also provides opportunities for learning how to have fun in new, drug-free ways.
Deal with Your Emotions
More oftentimes than not, people fall into addiction as a means to avoid dealing with difficult emotions. Rather than bury or stuffing your emotions day after day, journal these experiences and/or consider getting a sponsor.
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Much like the addiction lifestyle breeds its own group of friends and associates, a drug-free lifestyle must do the same. Developing a support network is essential to maintaining long-term abstinence. A support network can be made up of family, friends, a spiritual advisor, a sponsor or anyone who supports your efforts to stay clean and sober.
Plan Your Day
Establishing a daily routine can go a long way towards building a drug-free lifestyle. A daily routine provides much needed direction and stability, unlike the chaos and turmoil that characterizes addiction. A daily/weekly schedule should include time for work, family, friends and extracurricular activities.
Diet, Rest & Exercise
Staying healthy offers the best defense when facing temptations to use. Low energy levels, fatigue and improper rest can leave a person wide open to falling back into old drug-using patterns.
Overall, maintaining abstinence requires an ongoing effort that impacts your everyday decisions and choices. A relapse prevention plan simply lays these decisions out ahead of time so there’s no room for error when you follow the plan.