A relapse prevention plan is a document that a therapist and patient create together to address the stages of relapse in order to maintain sobriety. The goal of treatment is to help individuals recognize the early stages of relapse where the chance of potential change is the greatest.
There are three stages of recovery: emotional, mental, and physical. Each stage of relapse and recovery has its own risks of relapse. These will be detailed below.
During emotional relapse, clients’ emotions and behaviors are setting themselves up for failure. They may be bottling up emotions, isolating, not going to social events or meetings, and also have poor eating and sleeping habits. The common denominator of emotional relapse is poor self-care.
Some signs of mental relapse include cravings for drugs or alcohol, minimizing consequences of past usage, looking for relapse opportunities, or planning a relapse.
Finally, physical relapse is what most people think of when the term “relapse” is used. This is when an individual returns to substance usage after having stopped. Most physical relapses are relapses of opportunity. They occur when the person has a window in which they feel they will not get caught.
Part of relapse prevention involves rehearsing these situations and developing healthy exit strategies. A good relapse prevention plan will address all of these stages and equip patients with the tools needed to resist the urges and make healthier decisions.[1 ]
How does one create a relapse prevention plan? A recovery team will cover these steps to build an effective prevention plan.
First, they will assess the patient’s personal history. It is helpful to know exactly what has caused a relapse before, if anything has, along with the history of drug and alcohol abuse.
Next, they will work with the patient to help identify potential causes of relapse in the future. It is vital to know what could possibly lead to relapse. Be specific and outline any potential scenarios or stressors. Recognize the signs of relapse.
The stages of relapse can look different for everyone and can present in individual ways. The most important part is to design an action plan. It should detail exactly what to do if one feels the signs of a relapse starting, including who to call, what actions to take, and what to do instead of returning to substance use. Be as detailed and specific as possible.
Finally, if all else doesn’t work, ask for help. This is not a journey to walk alone.
A relapse prevention plan template should address the following issues: causes, cravings, preventative tools, support, and lifestyle changes.
Lastly, the plan should determine what happens if a client does relapse or comes close to it. This section should include motivations for why they want to live a healthy lifestyle, support to utilize, and a plan of action to decrease and prevent the risk of more dire consequences.
The most common relapse prevention model includes the following nine steps:
These nine steps can assist a recovering patient in order to help them work through the active stages of substance use recovery and transition into lifelong maintenance and sobriety.
Try to avoid people or places linked with substance use. These are people and places one may want to avoid or set new boundaries with to avoid the risk of relapse. There are a few more tips on how to craft a successful relapse prevention plan below.
Learn healthy coping skills. These can include deep breathing, exercising, stretching, meditation, and healthy distraction, which are all ways to cope with daily stress. Working with a therapist can also help highlight the most successful coping strategies. Be aware of the physical surroundings and situations that may pose a risk to recovery. Don’t forget to consider thoughts and feelings that may lead to relapse. Stay busy and organized.
Set up a daily or weekly routine and spend time on fulfilling hobbies. Boredom, loneliness, and impulsive behavior are frequently risk factors for relapse and structure can be a valuable tool in recovery. Build a support system and stay connected to others. Social connection and community play an enormous part in effective recovery. These tips can help with forming an effective relapse prevention plan that supports lasting recovery from substance abuse.
The team at Genesis Recovery is here to help you and your family along the journey to freedom from substance abuse disorders. Through substance detox, medication protocols, individual therapy, support groups, and more, we can provide the support to start a new chapter. Contact us today to get on the path to recovery.