Completing a drug, alcohol, or process rehabilitation program is only the beginning. Once discharged, the battle of relapse prevention begins. While a relapse is devastating, and statistically very likely, it occurrence should not be a time to panic or give up on the drive to achieve a sober life. A relapse is best approached when it is accepted that it may happen – this is not meant to be used as an excuse, but rather as a means to keep moving forward. If this attitude is adopted then a relapse can be viewed in terms of what worked and what did not work, and appropriate adjustments made.
An effective relapse prevention plan
While the rate of relapse is high, there are measures that can be taken that increase the chances for success. Here are some basic steps.
Change the environment – By restructuring the environment, reminders of addiction are removed. This may entail changing jobs, living quarters, and the cadre of friends and acquaintances – especially those known to encourage the substance or behavioral addiction. This includes not allowing guests to bring reminders in when they visit.
Utilize new skills – In most treatment programs, patients are presented with coping skills and life skills. These are intended to be used as alternative means for addressing and replacing old behaviors that contribute to addiction with new ones that do not contribute.
Understand the shortcomings previous attempts to quit – This may sound like a riff on an old joke, but if a particular strategy did not work, then don’t’ use it.
Develop support communities – Recovery is a difficult process to handle alone. The more resources that are available to an individual, the greater the chances are that a relapse can be avoided. By having access to individuals and processes that are dedicated to helping recovery, the process can proceed unimpeded.
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