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Creating the Right Relapse Prevention Plan for You

two people talk about a Relapse prevention plan

All people recovering from substance problems share a drug or alcohol relapse risk. That happens when you break your established sobriety and return to substance use. You can lower the odds of experiencing such an episode by making plans to prevent it. One common element in creating such a plan is participation in relapse prevention therapy. You can also do a number of other things to keep your relapse risks low.

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Addiction is a chronic, or long-term, illness. If you’re affected by it, you have roughly a 50% chance of relapsing at some point in your recovery. This level of risk may seem unusually high. However, in reality, it’s similar to the relapse risks for other chronic illnesses such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • High blood pressure

A relapse prevention plan works to make you less susceptible to a relapse episode. It achieves this goal by using various methods to support your ongoing sobriety. Your treatment team can help you create a plan that fits your unique situation. Relapse prevention planning usually results in a written document. However, your plan may also take the form of a verbal agreement.

Elements of a Relapse Prevention Plan – Knowing What Happens During a Relapse

In order to prevent a relapse, it’s crucial that you understand how this kind of episode happens. Most people think that relapses only occur when you actually return to drug or alcohol use. But in reality, this is just the last phase of a three-part process.

The first phase of this process is known as an emotional relapse. It occurs when you start unconsciously doing things to increase your future risks for drug or alcohol use. The second phase of relapse is mental. It occurs when you begin to have conscious thoughts about drinking or taking drugs. These thoughts are conflicted and occur alongside those that favor sobriety. Only in the last phase, known as a physical relapse, does actual substance use occur.

An effective relapse prevention plan will help you identify when these stages occur and give you the ability to recognize dangerous thought patterns early. Early detection is critical for taking action to prevent a physical relapse.

Other Common Steps in Relapse Prevention Plans

Effective relapse prevention plans also typically involve several other vital steps. These steps include such things as:

  • Assessing your past patterns of drug or alcohol use
  • Determining the things that are most likely to make you want to drink or take drugs
  • Developing coping strategies to deal with your substance use urges

It’s also essential to develop a network of relapse prevention allies. In a crisis, you can turn to these allies for support and advice on avoiding substance use.

Relapse Prevention Planning in Therapy

You can develop an effective prevention plan with help from an experienced psychotherapist. Several forms of therapy may be helpful. One widely used option is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, you learn to identify the things that trigger your drug or alcohol urges. You also learn how to cope with those urges when they arise. In addition, you learn strategies for keeping your desire to drink or take drugs as low as possible.

Seek Help Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan at Northpoint Colorado

What is a relapse prevention plan? It’s a document or verbal agreement designed to help you stay sober during and after substance treatment. Have questions about developing this kind of plan? The experts at Northpoint Colorado are standing by to assist you.

Relapse prevention is a core mission at Northpoint. We rely on a variety of methods to support this goal, including cognitive-behavioral therapy. To learn more about CBT and our other treatment and prevention options, call us today at 970.579.4569. You can also reach us through our online message form.