7 Things to Include in Your Relapse Prevention Plan

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Looking for ideas for your relapse prevention plan? Here are 7 suggestions.

A relapse prevention plan is a crucial recovery tool for anyone recovering from a cycle of drug or alcohol addiction. The objective of having a personal relapse prevention plan is to recognize and understand your own unique behaviors and potential triggers that could lead to a relapse in the future.

Many people believe that when a recovering addict ‘falls off the wagon’, or relapses, it’s a single event. However, relapse is a three-part process that leads up to the physical act of returning to addictive substance use.

Having a customized relapse prevention plan created and prepared in advance makes it much easier for the recovering person to recognize the early warning signs of a potential relapse. If any triggers, emotions or attitudes are recognized, it’s much easier to take action to stop the process early.

How to Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan

Learning how to develop a relapse prevention plan isn’t about following the strategies or tactics that worked for someone else. Just as the triggers behind everyone’s addiction are different, the actual things included on each relapse prevention plan also need to be unique to that person.

In order to work out how to develop a relapse prevention plan that works for your individual needs, it’s important to first take the time to understand the psychological triggers behind your personal self-destructive behaviors associated with addiction.

Things to Include In Your Relapse Prevention Plan

Here are some of the common relapse prevention ideas to include in your personal recovery strategy.

Triggers: Take some time to write down a list of the people, places, events, thoughts and situations that could cause you to relapse. Your personal addiction triggers will be unique to you, so list down anything that could increase the likelihood of tempting you to start using or drinking again.

Warning signs: Understanding and recognizing the early warning signs of relapse can be a critical component of any relapse prevention strategy. The warning signs will differ during different stages of relapse, so it’s important to know the difference between emotional relapse, mental relapse and physical relapse.

Cravings: Every person in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction will experience urges, or cravings, to use again at some point throughout the recovery process. The key to remaining sober and avoiding relapse is to have a solid strategy in place for managing and coping with cravings using healthy, positive actions.

Recovery tools: Anyone who has graduated from a comprehensive addiction rehab treatment program should have been provided with a list of recovery tools and resources designed to help maintain motivation to stay sober. Your tools and resources might include information for available sober living communities or halfway homes, details of local counselors or therapists for ongoing treatment, local group support meetings or 12-step meetings, or information about nearby alternative therapy sessions that may be helpful for maintaining sobriety.

Support network: If you haven’t already created one, take the time to build a support network of people you can turn to and rely on when you need help maintaining sobriety. You might include your sponsor, family members, friends, counselors, support groups or addiction specialists.

Emergency back-up relapse plan: No matter how strong your recovery strategy might be, there will be times when you might feel yourself slipping towards relapsing. Your plan of action during emergency situations might be to authorize another person to step forward and help you get back into treatment or to encourage you to return to regular support meetings.

Self-care: Many people in recovery from addiction find it helpful to practice self-care to help maintain sobriety. Participating in activities or lifestyle changes that improve physical and psychological health can reduce the risk of relapse. Eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, and attending to personal hygiene and grooming needs are all a good start. ┬áInclude activities that relieve symptoms of stress, reduce feelings of anxiety or depression, and promote a general sense of well-being.

Remember, your individual relapse prevention strategy is not set in stone. If you do relapse, take some time to figure out what might have triggered the action. Then revisit your prevention plan and tweak it as needed so you can avoid the same thing happening again in future.

Ask others in your group support sessions for relapse prevention ideas and consider adding any you find helpful onto your list. The key to staying clean and sober is to work out what works for your individual situation and your unique needs. Then you’re in a much stronger position to manage your recovery with confidence.

If you’re struggling with addiction and/or maintaining sobriety, contact Better Addiction Care today. We’ll help you find the right treatment program for your needs. Call us at 1.800.429.7690.