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What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

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Part of the recovery process from alcohol and drug use disorders is having a relapse prevention plan. This plan is essential to maintaining one’s sobriety and reducing the risk of lapses and relapse. Whether someone has just started their recovery journey or has been sober for years, it never hurts to review their plan and ensure it does not need to be updated. 

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention plan is a strategy that can help individuals struggling with substance use addiction cope with triggers and manage their recovery. It is an individualized blueprint created to identify high-risk scenarios, early warning signs of relapse, and strategies for preventing it. 

The ultimate goal of a relapse prevention plan is to create the skills needed to live without the crutch of alcohol and drug use and the unhealthy behaviors common with addiction. A well-structured plan typically involves the following:

  • Creating positive coping mechanisms, such as mindfulness practice or talking through difficulties with supportive peers.
  • Identifying helpful interactions between people and environments where recovery will be best achieved.
  • Examining personal triggers associated with past alcohol and drug use.
  • Developing strategies on how to handle outside stressors that could contribute to thoughts about using again.
  • Setting realistic goals for lifestyle changes in order to stay sober.
  • Preparing emergency support systems when one is feeling tempted by familiar vices.
  • Engaging in regular self-care routines like exercise, healthy eating habits, and therapy sessions.
  • Revising an existing plan when action steps need to be updated when warranted and necessary.

What Are the Benefits of Having One?

A relapse prevention plan can be extremely beneficial to those recovering from substance use addiction. By having an individual plan, each person can devise personalized coping strategies to handle potential triggers and cravings. 

A key benefit of relapse prevention plans is that they provide direction and hope when someone feels like they have lost control over their thoughts or behaviors regarding addiction. Additionally, these plans may serve as a source of motivation, as people can reflect on progress made having achieved certain goals during recovery. 

In addition, having written objectives put many into a place of accountability where they are more likely to adhere to their plan. Furthermore, by maintaining awareness about relapse warning signs, early triggering behaviors are caught before someone lapses or relapses. 

How to Make a Relpase Prevent Plan

There are several steps to follow when making a relapse prevention plan. First, one should identify personal triggers by listing activities, places, people, emotions, and other things that could cause them to relapse. 

Next, establish realistic goals that are achievable and reasonable, such as healthy lifestyle goals, starting new hobbies, or finding new sober friends. The plan should also include developing healthy coping mechanisms, like joining support groups, continuing individual therapy, or starting an exercise routine.

The next step is to prepare emergency plans when one feels tempted by old vices: Having a written plan provides guidance without thinking about what to do when one is contemplating relapse. 

One should also remember to perform a self-assessment and reflection to assess the progress already made, potential setbacks, and any new triggers they have uncovered. Then, they should use that information to adjust their relapse prevention plan.

Other important aspects to include when creating a relapse prevention plan include:

  • Engage in regular self-care: The more one focuses on themself with healthy activities, exercise, and proper nutrition, the less likely they are to relapse. 
  • Establish valuable external connections by including others: Having individuals and places around that can lend support when needed can provide a distraction from old habits while also being enormously beneficial for those recovering from addiction. 

Plan for what to do if one relapses: Having a plan in place should one relapse is just as important as having a relapse prevention plan. It is crucial to understand what to do to regain one’s sobriety and continue their recovery.

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Why Is Support an Essential Part of a Relapse Prevention Plan?

When someone feels alone or isolated, they are more likely to relapse. Whereas having support systems ensure this is less likely to happen because someone has others they can turn to and lean on to protect their sobriety. 

Support is an essential part of a relapse prevention plan because it can provide a secure and safe space for individuals to reflect and even talk about their struggles with addiction. Having supportive peers or professionals who can listen without judgment and be understanding can be invaluable in maintaining sobriety. 

What to Do If One Relapses?

If one relapses, it is essential for the individual to forgive themself and remember that a relapse does not equate failure. Rather, this setback should be viewed as a learning experience. It should be used to identify areas that someone needs to continue to work on and make further improvements to their relapse prevention plan to avoid future relapses. 

Relapse Prevention Planning and Support in Murfreesboro, TN

If you have relapsed or need help with relapse prevention planning to maintain your sobriety, Tulip Hill Recovery in Murfreesboro, TN, is here to help. We have programs and resources to help you maintain sobriety and recover when you relapse. For further information, contact us today.

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