For many recovering addicts, it can easily feel as though a relapse might come out of nowhere. Because cravings can come out of nowhere, if someone does not have the right support in their life, a craving might easily turn into a relapse. However, with the right levels of support, a person does not need to feel the fear of relapse every time a craving arises. This article will explain how to create a relapse prevention plan so that a person experiencing cravings can stay safe and sober.
First, when creating a prevention plan for relapse, it’s important to define relapse. It is the process of slipping back into old behavior patterns or returning to having a weaker support system in life. The truth is relapse begins long before anyone takes their first drink or drug. Therefore, the real highlight of a relapse prevention plan is making sure that all the supports in your life are in place.
What to Include in a Relapse Prevention Plan
The following are a few pointers on what information to include in your relapse prevention plan.
- Handle day to day feelings and problems right away. It’s easy to let pressure, stress, and negativity build up. When stress or emotional problems are addressed right away, they won’t build up and overwhelm you. You might handle stress and emotional concerns immediately by journaling, talking to someone you trust, exercising, or talking to the person that upset you.
- Keep your life in balance. One of the most powerful ways to reduce stress is to have a healthy balance between work, play, and relaxation. Once the work day is over you might take a long, hot bath as a way to relax. Or if you were out with your kids at the park all day, you might need some alone time. You may need to assess just how much alone time you need in order to be emotionally available for friends and family in your life.
- Create a strong support system of friends and family. If you’ve lost some of the trust with others while you were addicted, part of building a strong support network is rebuilding the trust that was lost. Often, people want to be of assistance. Mend any broken relationships and build a circle of friends and loved ones that can support you when you need it.
- Identify a plan for high risk situations. There are likely going to be moments that get intense during your recovery. Perhaps you go through a breakup; perhaps you lose your job. The feelings that arise from challenging life experiences can cause cravings and those cravings – especially when feeling vulnerable – can lead to relapse. For this reason, you might have a clear plan about what to do when you’re feeling stressed and at risk for relapse. You might write important numbers down and keep them by the fridge. You might establish one person in your life as the person to call when you’re at risk. You might make a plan to take a few days off of work in order to find your sense of relaxation and calm again. In fact, you can create a plan for high risk situations with your therapist or psychologist.
If you don’t already have a relapse prevention plan, contact your sponsor or mental health provider. Having a specific plan for moments of stress can make all the difference and keep you sober.