Aftercare: What is Relapse Prevention Planning?
Anyone who gets addiction treatment at a substance abuse rehab for drug or alcohol addiction will learn all about relapse prevention planning. For those who have never been to a substance abuse rehab they might ask, “What exactly is relapse prevention planning and why is it crucial for anyone in recovery?”
What is a Relapse?
Before one can understand what relapse prevention planning is, they must understand what a relapse is. A relapse is when an addict quits but then starts using again. A relapse can happen immediately following substance abuse rehab or even months or years after substance abuse rehab. It will depend on the individual, their will power, and what may trigger or cause them to relapse.
Many people will relapse, go back to using, and then have to return back to substance abuse rehab. Sometimes, it will take several times for a person to go to substance abuse rehab before they become permanently clean and sober. This does not mean that the addict gave up or is a failure; it simply means that they did not use their relapse prevention plan from their addiction treatment or their prevention plan was not strong enough.
The first few months following substance abuse rehab is when the recovering addict is at the most risk for relapsing, this is known as the early recovery period. During this period if the recovering addict does not practice the aftercare techniques taught during addiction treatment they may be at an even higher risk for relapsing.
A relapse prevention plan will be developed in nearly all addiction treatment programmes as a part of the aftercare. It is crucial that anyone new to sobriety and recovery practice and implement their relapse prevention plan throughout their recovery. Aftercare programmes often include communication with rehab counsellors, therapy in the recovering addict’s hometown, and various support groups and meetings.
Preventing a Relapse
Another part of relapse prevention planning in addiction treatment is to get the addict to perform a thorough review of their history of use; they should identify thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that may have lead them to use or lead them to continue using. Once they are able to recognise these triggers, most likely they will notice a pattern.
If and when one of these triggers occurs in recovery, they will be able to implement their prevention plan and possibly avoid a relapse. Writing these risks down and keeping them in visible areas can help to keep it fresh on the addict’s mind and will help them implement it on a regular basis.
Once the recovering addict has identified their own triggers, as part of their addiction treatment they should then come up with alternatives to using. Doing this will help the person knows how to deal with their triggers, there is a less likely chance that they will relapse. One must understand that not every trigger can be avoided; however, triggers can be managed as long as the addict is aware of them.
AA and NA support groups are available for anyone who is suffering from an addiction or recovering from an addiction. They are available in nearly every part of the world and are valuable to anyone in recovery. The individuals in these groups will know all about relapse prevention planning, as most of them will have their own plan to stay sober. Each and every person is full of information and stories regarding addiction and how to stay clean; many are living proof that with the right plan, long term sobriety is possible.
Support Team and Intervention Options
It is important for any recovering addict to identify various people that can support them throughout their recovery, a support team. These may be sober friends, family, and people from support groups or meetings. Part of the prevention plan should be dedicated to identifying supportive people and then writing down their names and contact details. This should be placed in easily accessible areas, and whenever the recovering addict is concerned about a possible relapse, or perhaps they have relapsed, they can contact these people.
Also included in the prevention plan should be preferred intervention strategies the supportive people can implement. For example, if the recovering addict should relapse, they may want their support team to call their counsellor, take them back to substance abuse rehab, etc.
Use the Knowledge and the Tools
It is vital for the recovering addict to use their aftercare resources that are available as a part of their everyday lives. This aftercare includes their relapse prevention plan. Principles that they learned in addiction treatment will be reinforced in their recovery and will become a part of their lives. Through this reinforcement, they will be able to remain clean and sober; therefore, their lives will be better.