Relapse prevention is a process that is commonly utilized to help individuals who have struggled with substance abuse problems to be able to effectively maintain their sobriety. Individuals do not completely recover from a chemical dependency problem just because they abstain from drug or alcohol use, but through making a series of positive life-style changes that are completely different than their former addictive behaviors.
Relapse prevention is one of the most significant components of any quality drug rehab program; this is because the largest number of drug overdose incidents is reported to occur upon the addict being abstinent for a period of time. Recovery from substance abuse will often be a bumpy road to travel, in which former addicts may experience many different levels of temptations. When a person has been formally educated about relapse prevention, they will have the tools that the need to immediately identify drug triggers so that they can be successful at avoiding a potential drug or alcohol relapse.
Educating a person who has struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction problem could be as vital as educating a person that comes from a family that has had a high incidence of heart disease; in this instance, teaching the person about the warning signs of a heart attack could be a life-saving measure. When a person that is in recovery from substance abuse and their loved ones are educated in relation to relapse prevention, they will have the best chance of preventing or interrupting a potential drug or alcohol relapse.
Relapse prevention classes can educate a person that is attending a drug rehab center about what causes a person who has had been successful in the drug or alcohol recovery process to suddenly relapse. A person in recovery, who has had an ample amount of relapse prevention education, will realize that specific avoidance will quickly lead them back to addiction; some of these avoidance behaviors include not checking in with an aftercare director at the drug rehab or skipping a number of support group meetings.
Because every person is unique, the causes of relapse prevention will often vary from person to person; some individuals that are in recovery for a substance abuse problem may be more prone to a drug or alcohol relapse when they experience social pressure. A prime example of this would be when a person who is recovery for an alcoholism problem is attending a function at a venue where there will be drinking; this setting could present a danger to them, but they will be especially vulnerable when the people who are attending are coaxing them to have a cocktail, because they are unaware that the individual is in recovery. Many other people who have successfully completed a drug rehab program may do great in social situations; on the other hand, these same individuals may experience a great deal of temptation when they spend too much time alone.
Relapse prevention should go hand and hand with maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise; additionally, getting enough sleep and having a strong emotional support system can also go a long way in helping to prevent a drug or alcohol relapse. Proper nutrition and maintaining a regular exercise program are effective at improving a person’s physical and emotional health; when a person who is in recovery for a substance abuse problem feels great, they will be much less likely to reach for mood altering drugs. In relation to relapse prevention and diet, a person who is in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction should eat regular meals, no longer than 4-5 hours apart. It is a proven fact that when an individual waits too long between meals, they are much more likely to become irritable; in terms of relapse prevention, a person that is in this state will be much more prone to poor decision making in relation to their drug cravings.
A quality relapse prevention course should effectively teach an individual in treatment about which potential drug relapse signs may be relevant to them; additionally, the former addict should be taught about what to do upon recognizing any of these signs. It is vital that a person in recovery includes their closest loved ones in this particular relapse prevention exercise; this is because in many instances, a family member will recognize a sign that is pointing towards a drug relapse, before the person in recovery is able to. It is important to note that what may seem to be a sign that points toward a potential drug relapse may often be the former addict going through a stressful period; when this has been determined to be the case, the individual in recovery should gather with their support team and immediately deal with the specific situation that is causing them anxiety.
Quality relapse prevention includes knowing what to do when an actual relapse does occur; the importance of this cannot be understated. When a drug or alcohol relapse occurs, it should be responded to with a sense of urgency. A former addict cannot wait to confront what has happened, they need to look honestly at what has taken place; although the person in recovery may feel an overwhelming sense of shame, it is important that they do not dwell on this aspect of the relapse for a long period of time, as this could only make matters worse.
It is vital that loved ones realize that a person who is in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction will experience a host of negative emotions in relation to a drug or alcohol relapse; experiencing these painful emotions may cause the former addict to become extremely depressed. Friends and family should not only stay close to the former addict and offer continuous support, but they should encourage the person to speak with a counselor or to attend extra support meetings; this action can help the person in recovery to put the drug or alcohol relapse into the proper perspective. Counseling can help a person to identify what specific factors led to the drug or alcohol relapse in the first place; this could help the person in recovery to develop a stronger relapse prevention plan moving forward.