9 Daily Relapse Prevention Techniques
What is Relapse Prevention?
Relapse prevention is a form of behavioral therapy that helps clients recognize and avoid their triggers regarding substance use. Relapse is a very common issue that people suffer from when going through the recovery process. Although it may feel like you have control over yourself, addiction can be overpowering. Most people find that the most difficult part of relapse prevention is that it is an internal battle.
We understand how difficult life with addiction can be and we are here to help. If you or a loved one is suffering, reach out to us today to learn more about our services.
Why is Relapse Prevention Important?
Relapse prevention is one of the most critical steps in the recovery process. After going through treatment, people usually feel like they are fully healed. In reality, 40-60% of people relapse after going through rehab. When people go back to normal life, they no longer have close supervision from treatment professionals. They have to make good decisions on their own.
Here at First City Recovery, we offer a wide variety of treatment options that are focused on ensuring a full recovery for our clients. We have developed 9 relapse prevention techniques for substance use that can be used by anyone going through recovery.
9 Relapse Prevention Techniques For Substance Use
- Going on a walk
- Leisure activities (biking, fishing, painting)
- Reading a book
- Calling a friend
- Finding a new hobby
- Playing a sport
- Art (painting, drawing, sculpting)
- Writing down positive thoughts
Another major component of relapse prevention is building healthy relationships. After going through treatment, people begin to fall back into their old ways. This may include hanging out with people that encourage negative behavior. It may be hard to break ties with these people, but it is important to do what is best for yourself. The people that truly care about you are the ones supporting you through the recovery process.
If you don’t have people like this in your life, consider joining a support group. Support groups are a great way to meet people that are going through the same battle as you. It can be beneficial to hear someone’s story and relate it to your own journey. Additionally, many people in these groups are also looking for positive and encouraging relationships.
The most important component of the recovery process is recognizing and avoiding triggers. When dealing with substance use, triggers are the factors in a person’s life that cause them to relapse. For example, a trigger for someone suffering from alcoholism may be going to a bar. Knowing what sets off your triggers can be difficult, so it is important to do some self-reflection to find this out. Take a step back and think about where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re doing when substance use happens. To fully overcome your old ways, you must actively try these relapse prevention techniques for substance use.
Support groups are one of the most crucial parts of relapse prevention. It is extremely important to prioritize this time each week. Instead of making excuses and skipping your support group meeting, make a schedule so that this time is available. It is easy to sit back and say that you have no time to attend your support group. Even if you feel like you are fully recovered from addiction, support groups are still essential for maintaining sobriety. As soon as this is removed from your life, the temptation to use substances will begin to creep back into your life. Support groups are designed to help you overcome addiction, and the last thing you want is to relapse because of laziness.
When overcoming addiction, it is important to track your progress along the journey. There will always be bumps in the road, and sometimes you will take two steps forward and one step back. It is critical that you find a way to get back up even after your failure. Don’t just sit there and tell yourself that you won’t do it again. Make mental or physical notes of what you have to do to prevent a slip-up in the future. It is easy to start a pattern of saying “just this one time.” In order to fully overcome addiction, you have to make a commitment to remove it from your life. Create an outline of how you will beat addiction and reward yourself when you make progress. Following this relapse prevention technique for substance use will prove to be one of the most effective methods.
Addiction recovery is a long and arduous process so it is inevitable that you will have strong feelings and emotions. After treatment, many people feel guilt or pain that lingers long after rehab. Additionally, after detoxing from a substance it can be difficult to find contentment in other aspects of life. Writing these feelings and emotions will empower you to find ways to achieve happiness and satisfaction. It can also be helpful to read through this journal to remind yourself of how you felt at a certain time.
Writing down your feelings is sometimes looked down upon in our society, but really it is the key to emotional satisfaction. Being able to admit how you are feeling is one of the most beneficial things you can do during relapse prevention for substance use. Don’t let people dictate how you feel. Take control of your life and allow yourself to have feelings and emotions.
You are the most important thing in your life. If you are not prioritizing yourself, then you will never achieve full satisfaction in life. For example, if you are engaging in substance use because your friends are doing it, then you are hurting yourself. When engaging in relapse prevention you have to make decisions that are best for you even if they disappoint others. If you are not able to take care of yourself, how will you be able to take care of others? Remember, it is not the end of the world if people don’t agree with your decisions.
Another component of self-prioritization is knowing what the right decision is. If you are making decisions that are not in your best interest even though it feels good, then it is not the right decision. In many cases, it may not be a decision that you want to make. Growing is learning from your past mistakes. Thinking about the long-term consequences of your actions should be the first thing you think about when making a decision.
Addiction is something that is nearly impossible to deal with alone. Having someone in your life that is a good role model will help you in more ways than you know. This is especially important when you are in need of friends and people that will support you instead of encouraging bad habits. As soon as you begin to ignore your sponsor or lose touch with them, there is a much greater chance of relapse. This person is here to advise you and wants the best for you. Make sure to include this person in your normal everyday life so that you are able to hear a voice of positivity throughout your recovery process.
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to control the mind. Meditating doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to seek out a program or change your life. This could simply be taking 10 minutes every day to sit back, relax and assess your mental state. If addiction is a strong feeling in your life, using this method will be a great tool to utilize. Among the most popular meditation methods deal with breathing mechanisms. Taking deep, slow breaths will bring the body to a state of relaxation that will free the mind. Try taking a four-second in and four-second out breath a few times a day and notice how your mind begins to change. Many people experience a decrease in anxiety and also feel like their addictive tendencies subside.
Relapse Prevention During the Holidays
The holidays are always seen as a happy time of celebration and togetherness. For many people, it can be one of the most difficult times of the year. Because it is a time of celebration, it is easy to tell yourself that you deserve a “reward.” For example, many holidays include drinking as a part of the celebration. For someone who is going through alcohol addiction, this can be an extremely tempting situation.
Even after going through treatment, the temptation to use substances will stick with you for a long time. During this time, remember the effect that substance use has on your life. Use the relapse prevention techniques for substance use outlined in this article to help you through this time. It may be a time of celebration, but there are many more ways to have a good time. Here are some suggestions that we encourage you to try out during this holiday season
- Go on a family walk
- Serve at a local soup kitchen
- Help with food preparation
Using these relapse prevention techniques for substance use will greatly benefit you throughout your recovery. If you or a loved one is having a hard time controlling their substance use, we encourage you to contact us to learn more about our services.
Dr. Vahid Osman, MD is a psychiatry specialist in Indianapolis, IN.
Dr. Osman completed a residency at Austin State Hospital. He has over 32 years of experience in Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.