How To Create A Relapse Prevention Plan
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How to Create a Relapse Prevention Plan

Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is a lifelong process. Lasting recovery requires an investment of time and energy, as well as ongoing dedication and support.

Navigating the earliest days of sobriety can come with many challenges and surprises. Without using drugs and alcohol to numb emotional pain, you may be faced with complex and intense emotions. You may need to rebuild relationships or form a new social circle with people who support your sobriety.

Simply hoping for the best isn’t enough to ensure you stay on track in recovery. Creating and following a relapse prevention plan can help you reach your goals and stay engaged in your recovery, giving you the best chance at lifelong sobriety.

Developing a relapse prevention plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This guide will give you some tips to help you create an effective plan to support your recovery after rehab. Reach out to the team at Flourishing Foundations to learn about our high-quality addiction treatment programs or for support at any stage of recovery.

What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention plan is a detailed, usually written document, that outlines how to prevent relapse after rehab. It is created with the help of an addiction specialist and should be tailored to meet the individual’s needs. The plan offers a list of triggers as well as a course of action regarding how to deal with them.

Having a plan in place is vital for anyone in recovery. Spending time to create an effective relapse prevention plan will allow you to recognize a potential relapse before it happens and respond healthily.

Why is it Important to Have a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Many people get a burst of excitement after completing rehab. They may feel inspired to live a healthy, sober life and optimistic about how different their life will be in the future. But as time goes on, people often realize that many of the same challenges are still there–and they have to go through them without using drugs and alcohol.

On the other hand, some people leave rehab feeling uncertain or anxious about life in recovery. They may feel overwhelmed by the challenges of sobriety or face new challenges that exceed their ability to cope.

No matter how you’re feeling when you leave rehab, it’s crucial to have a relapse prevention plan that will keep you on track in your recovery. A relapse prevention plan provides valuable structure and routine to support your recovery and gives you easily accessible resources to lean on when you need them most.

A relapse prevention plan can also help you re-commit to sobriety after a slip or relapse. Most people–more than 70%–experience at least one relapse at some point during recovery. Having a plan in place can help you put a relapse behind you and move forward quickly.

How to Create a Relapse Prevention Plan

You may create your relapse prevention plan on your own, or you may work with an addiction counselor or other member of your treatment team. Write down or record your relapse prevention plan so that it is easily accessible when you need to refer to it.

Here are some steps you can take to make an effective relapse prevention plan.

1. Reflect on your substance abuse history

Take time to think about and identify factors that contributed to your substance use. Consider:

  • Where you used drugs or alcohol
  • When you were most likely to use substances
  • What events, people, dates, and other situations might trigger a relapse
  • What thoughts and feelings preceded substance use or a relapse
  • What was occurring in your life before a relapse

Understanding your substance abuse history can make it easier to identify and manage potential triggers that can lead to relapse.

2. Recognize the early signs of relapse

Make time each day to check in with yourself–how are you feeling, physically and emotionally? Are there behaviors or thoughts that are new and concerning? Write down any new emotions, behaviors, or thoughts that may lead to relapse and share them with your addiction counselor, doctor, or therapist. Be aware that relapse usually happens in three stages: emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. If you can identify an emotional or mental relapse, you can take the steps required to prevent a physical one.

3. Identify resources

After leaving rehab, you’ll need to know what resources and support are available in the community. Research local recovery support groups and mental health treatment options you can access after leaving rehab. Consider 12-step meetings, outpatient treatment centers, sober living homes, and other types of support. Make sure you have a support group who you can go to with questions, concerns, or support. You may even start working with a sponsor who can help guide you through recovery after rehab.

4. Create a routine with healthy lifestyle changes

Living with an active addiction can feel chaotic. It’s crucial to develop a routine in recovery that allows for sleep, socialization, work or school, regular meals, chores, and other responsibilities. Your relapse prevention plan should include a daily schedule that can help you structure your day and help you keep track of recovery-related activities.

Your plan may also include any lifestyle changes you want to incorporate, such as regular exercise, better nutrition, and medical and mental health care. Your lifestyle changes should incorporate preventative tools, such as journaling, making a gratitude list, and attending support meetings because these tools can help you prevent relapse.

5. Make an emergency plan

Your relapse prevention plan should include information about what to do when your sobriety is threatened. When you are triggered and on the brink of a relapse, you may not have the clarity of mind to do research. Make an emergency plan–who you will call, what you will do instead of using, etc.–and have it easily accessible at all times.

Your relapse prevention plan will be personalized to meet your needs and utilize local resources that can support your recovery. Creating and following your relapse prevention plan will help you identify strengths and potential setbacks and give you practical ways to stay on track in your recovery.

Find Help Now

Recovery can be challenging, but getting the support you need can help you stay focused on sobriety. Reach out to the team at Flourishing Foundations Recovery now to learn more about our substance abuse treatment programs or for support at any stage of your recovery journey.