create a relapse prevention plan

How to Create a Relapse Prevention Plan

Addiction recovery isn’t a final destination–it’s a lifelong journey. There are many steps and stages of recovery before, during, and after rehab.

Navigating new sobriety can be challenging. You may learn and feel new things as you face challenges without drugs and alcohol. It’s not enough to simply hope for the best. You must create and follow a relapse prevention plan to keep you active and engaged in recovery for the rest of your life.

But how can you develop the best, most supportive relapse prevention plan? This guide will give you tips on establishing routines and connecting with resources to help you avoid relapse. Reach out to the specialists at New You Sober Living to learn more about our supportive sober housing programs or for guidance during any stage of your recovery.

Why Do I Need a Relapse Prevention Plan?

It’s common for people to leave rehab feeling excited at the chance of a new life. People may also feel nervous about beginning a new lifestyle, uncertain about their future, or have other complex emotions about their newfound sobriety. No matter how you’re feeling after completing a substance abuse treatment program, making a plan to avoid relapse is essential.

A relapse occurs when someone who has abstained from using substances uses them again. Relapses are common for those in recovery, with research showing over 70% of people in recovery have at least one in the first year after rehab. While the percentage of people who relapse goes down each year after completing rehab, the possibility is always there–and it’s important to take steps to avoid it.

Working to create a relapse prevention plan and following it can help people have longer periods of sobriety. A relapse prevention plan can also give people the tools to recover quickly after a slip and get back on track in less time.

Understanding the Stages of a Relapse

A relapse is rarely a single event. Instead, relapses typically occur in three stages.

Emotional relapse

People in this stage may feel stressed, sad, lonely, bored, or other challenging emotions. They may be facing challenges that overwhelm their ability to cope. Often, people may not sleep or eat regularly or fall out of a predictable rhythm. Life may feel chaotic, and routines go out the window, damaging emotional well-being.

Mental relapse

People may wonder what it would be like to use drugs or alcohol again. They may reminisce about the good times and idealize their experiences of substance abuse. Instead of remembering the harm substance abuse causes, they only consider the benefits. They might imagine that they could use substances again without consequences.

Physical relapse

A physical relapse includes using the substance and all the actions leading up to it. Driving to the liquor store, sitting at the bar, calling a dealer–all of these actions are part of a physical relapse. People in this final stage of relapse will use substances again and may quickly slip back into a destructive pattern of abuse.

Understanding the early stages of a relapse can help you identify when you need help and get the support you need before a physical relapse.

How to Create a Relapse Prevention Plan

You may create a relapse prevention plan on your own or work with a substance abuse specialist who can guide the process. It’s a good idea to write down your plan so that you’ll have easy access whenever you need it.

Here are some steps to make an effective, practical relapse prevention plan.

1. Consider your substance abuse history

Think about the factors that contributed to your substance abuse. Ask yourself:

  • Where and when did I use substances?
  • Which people may be likely to trigger a relapse?
  • What thoughts and feelings may have led to substance use?
  • What led to past relapses?

The more you understand your substance abuse history, the better you’ll be able to avoid or manage triggers.

2. Recognize early signs of relapse

Regularly check in with yourself about your feelings and behaviors. Be honest about your thoughts and emotions, and pay attention to signs of stress. Make a list of thoughts, behaviors, or feelings that indicate you’re close to a relapse and share it with your treatment team.

3. Make a plan

You will face challenges in recovery, and having a plan to deal with them without jeopardizing your sobriety is crucial. Your relapse prevention plan should include:

  • People you can call if you are on the verge of a relapse
  • What help you are likely to need
  • Steps you should take, such as going to a meeting or going back to rehab

A clear plan can help you escape a destructive pattern and get back on track.

4. Identify prevention tools

You’ll spend time learning tips and tools to avoid relapse while you’re in sober living and rehab. However, when a relapse is looming, you may not always remember everything you’ve learned. Make a list of tools you can use to combat stress, anger, and other challenges. Include things like:

  • Journaling
  • Attending 12-step or group support meetings
  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness
  • Regular meals
  • Socializing

Include contact information for people and programs you can contact for support.

Your relapse prevention plan may also include lifestyle changes you will make to support more sustainable lifelong sobriety, such as regular medical and mental health care, better nutrition, adequate sleep, and more. Your plan will be unique to you and reflect your recovery goals. You may need to revisit your relapse prevention plan or make changes as you progress in recovery over time.

Find Support Now

Sober living homes in South Florida can help people in recovery avoid relapse when sobriety is most fragile. Reach out to the specialists at New You Sober Living to learn about our high-quality support programs now.

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