Relapse prevention is part of recovery from addiction. Cravings, urges, pressure and neurobiological changes are just some factors which may pave the way for relapse. Explore relapse prevention strategies which can be useful in remaining sober.
Relapse Prevention Strategies
The following top ten strategies can help individuals in recovery prevent relapse when practiced on a continual basis.
Learn to accept the mind
Relapse prevention starts with understanding how the mind works including thoughts, beliefs, memories, feelings or sensations. An individual must then realize the experiences of a person’s mind are temporary. Mindfulness focuses on learned, practiced techniques to sit with uncomfortable feelings and wait for them to pass without acting on the impulses.
Seek psychological and medical help for psychiatric illnesses to learn better ways of coping with life. Medication can be helpful in supporting an individual in recovery when taken as prescribed.
Practice stimulus control by changing triggers or cues and accepting those which cannot be changed. Refuse to be ruled by triggers or impulses.
Problem of Immediate Gratification (PIG) begins with a concept of natural penalties for slips, lapses and relapses. Keep a list of reasons for sticking with a change plan.
Apparently Irrelevant Decisions (AID’s) may lead to high risk situations and using drugs or alcohol. Recovery is about living with mindfulness and awareness of one’s surroundings.
Beware of ‘Abstinence Violation Effect’
Carry a how-to-cope reminder set of instructions and remember that one slip up does not need to lead to a full relapse.
Find valued directions for life
A balanced life with healthy activities can be a substitute for unhealthy and undesirable addictive behaviors. Commit to acting on positive values and take ownership of healthy goals.
Practice good self care
TLC stands for Therapeutic Lifestyle Change. Staying clean and sober requires abstinence from unwanted behaviors, thoughts and ideas in order to live a balanced life. A person can improve mental health through the following ways:
- Nutrition (Omega-3 rich foods)
- Positive relationships
- Recreational activities
- Volunteering and altruistic endeavors (community engagement)
Learn and Apply SMART Recovery Tools
Read, study, learn and apply tools for positive self improvement based on self-help principles for a better life.
Celebrate successes and reward oneself for compliance with treatment, abstinence from drugs and alcohol and positive follow up principles of engagement with recovery process.
Recovery is a process which happens over the life span. The important thing to keep in mind is not to beat oneself up over mistakes made or slip-ups which happen. Every person has the opportunity and potential for success in recovery with the right tools and support. If help is needed, seek it out. It is never too late to start over and get on the track to vitality and health in recovery.
Relapse prevention strategies take reinforcement over a period of time. Using the principles on a daily basis helps a person focus on positive recovery rather than the challenges. If you need help focusing on a healthy recovery, the Villa can support you with tools and resources along the way.