Why Relapse Prevention Planning is Important for Recovery

  • Posted at Mar 29, 2022
  • Written by Rebecca
Why Relapse Prevention Planning is Important for Recovery

Relapse prevention planning is an important part of the substance abuse disorder process. It involves education and planning in order to reduce the risk of relapse. This way, people who are in treatment and recovery have the best chance of long-lasting healing and sobriety. But, what is a relapse prevention plan and why is it so important to have one?

What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Before one can understand relapse prevention, one must first understand relapse. Relapsing is a term that defines when a person who struggles with addiction uses an addictive substance after a period of recovery. So, people who have been to treatment are at a higher risk for relapse. In order to safeguard recovery after treatment, a relapse prevention plan must be created. A relapse prevention plan is a plan set in place that’s intended to help people in recovery from addiction recognize the stages of relapse. This way, they can identify the behaviors they need to work on and triggers they should avoid in order to steer clear of relapse.

The Need for Relapse Prevention Planning

Unfortunately, treatment for substance use disorder doesn’t always keep people from using an addictive substance ever again. In fact, according to statistics, between 20 and 80% of people who get help for addiction through treatment will relapse eventually. Therefore, people who get help for addiction through treatment must protect their recovery at all costs. Furthermore, people who have recently detoxed and gone through treatment are more likely to overdose when relapsing as their tolerance levels in the body decrease. Unfortunately, as overdose death rates continue to rise, it’s more important than ever that people in recovery understand the risks they take if they relapse. So, preventing relapse by relapse prevention planning is a vital part of the addiction treatment process.

Warning Signs of a Relapse

Part of having a relapse prevention strategy is being able to identify the signs and symptoms of a relapse. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of relapse or impending relapse can include:

  • stopping with group therapy or other means of commitment to recovery
  • sleeping issues (insomnia or sleeping too much)
  • high stress and anxiety levels
  • irritability and mood swings
  • isolating from others
  • not reaching out for help with recovery goals
  • craving addictive substances
  • thinking about using addictive substances
  • planning to obtain and/or use addictive substances
  • putting oneself in triggering situations (bars, around people who use, etc.)
Making a Relapse Prevention Plan

Part of creating a plan to prevent relapse is to understand how relapse works and the process of relapse. And, being open to the fact that relapse can happen and that you may need help during the process of relapse before actually using an addictive substance. When you keep an open mindset about relapse, you’re more likely to pinpoint the process of relapse and get help before the actual act of using and relapsing happens.

First and foremost, the best thing a person can do to create a relapse prevention plan is to understand personal triggers. Triggers are situations and things that can lead to the use of addictive substances, provoke emotions around using addictive substances, or stimulate cravings to use addictive substances. Triggers are different from person to person but can include things like:

  • being around people who use addictive substances
  • going to certain places that are reminders of when you were using
  • experiencing traumatic losses or changes
  • having personal relationship issues
  • experiencing negative feelings like sadness, anxiety, etc.
  • being around or having access to drugs or drug paraphernalia

Getting Help Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan From Professionals

The best way to create and establish a relapse prevention plan that keeps your triggers and needs into account is to create a plan with professional mental health specialists. Yellowbrick offers relapse prevention planning as a part of our substance use disorder treatment services. Find out more about how we can help on our website.

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