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This plan is often referred to as a relapse prevention plan. Learning how to make a relapse prevention plan and going through the process of creating a relapse prevention plan could be the difference between longer periods of sobriety and repeated relapse.



A relapse prevention plan is a vital tool for anyone in recovery. Having a plan helps you recognize your own personal behaviors that may point to relapse in the future. It also outlines ways to combat those behaviors and get back on track.

Most often, a relapse prevention plan is a written document a person creates with their treatment team and shares with their support group. The plan offers a course of action for responding to triggers and cravings.

With a relapse prevention plan, it is possible to acknowledge and act upon certain feelings and events, in turn avoiding a physical relapse (which is the stage when someone returns to drug or alcohol use).

While you can create a relapse prevention plan on your own, it may be helpful to walk through the process with someone who has knowledge of the topic like a substance abuse counselor. Relapse plans can be verbalized but may also be written in order to have a more clear outline of what steps to take should a relapse seem to be a possibility.

Create a relapse prevention action plan for what to do instead of turning to drugs or alcohol. For example, if going through a breakup could lead to a relapse, think of other outlets for your pain and frustration. Instead of drinking or using, plan to attend a support meeting or call a family member or close friend right away. The more specific your action plan is, the better, as this means you will be less likely to come within close reach of a relapse.

Compile a list of relapse prevention tools that have been helpful in your recovery. Think about what you can do instead of use, and how such activities can point you back on the right track. Some examples of such tools include:

Relapse prevention plans can include ways in which you hope to amend the damage addiction caused in your life. Separating these damages into areas like relationships, legal issues, financial issues or education can help you regain insight as to why you decided to get sober in the first place and provide motivation to make positive choices.

Terry Gorski is an internationally recognized expert within the field of substance abuse, mental health, violence and crime. Within his model he states the following nine steps to be imperative in developing a CENAPS model of relapse prevention or a Gorski relapse prevention plan:

There are four main ideas in relapse prevention. First, relapse is a gradual process with distinct stages. The goal of treatment is to help individuals recognize the early stages, in which the chances of success are greatest [1]. Second, recovery is a process of personal growth with developmental milestones. Each stage of recovery has its own risks of relapse [2]. Third, the main tools of relapse prevention are cognitive therapy and mind-body relaxation, which change negative thinking and develop healthy coping skills [3]. Fourth, most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules [4]. Educating clients in these few rules can help them focus on what is important.

These are some of the signs of mental relapse [1]: 1) craving for drugs or alcohol; 2) thinking about people, places, and things associated with past use; 3) minimizing consequences of past use or glamorizing past use; 4) bargaining; 5) lying; 6) thinking of schemes to better control using; 7) looking for relapse opportunities; and 8) planning a relapse.

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 relapse prevention plan is a written plan that helps you recognize the signs of relapse, avoid triggers, and prevent a return to chronic substance abuse. After you complete a treatment program, your recovery specialist or sponsor should help you create a written relapse prevention plan. It will likely include a detailed plan of action to help you initiate a personal self-care plan, identify techniques you will use to deal with urges and cravings, and create a list of people you will reach out to if you do use drugs or alcohol.

Another very important aspect of a relapse prevention plan is setting daily, weekly, monthly (and forever) goals for achieving a healthy lifestyle. Examples could be taking 30 minutes to practice yoga each morning, adopting a new hobby like pottery classes or martial arts, or creating your own healthy meal plan each week. Making daily efforts to prioritize your overall well-being not only helps you manage stress but also reinforces your sense of self-worth and value.

The best way to develop a relapse prevention plan is to work one-on-one with a treatment specialist, counselor, or your sponsor to create one. He or she can help help you devise a plan that includes strategies for:

At Nova Recovery Center, a relapse prevention plan is an essential part of our treatment process for every client. Our compassionate addiction treatment team at our rehab in Austin works one-on-one with each individual to create a solid and detailed plan of action that will help reduce the likelihood of relapse after rehab and support healthy behaviors and practices moving forward.

Creating a relapse prevention plan and continuing your treatment with an intensive outpatient rehab in Austin, Texas or sober living program can help you stay on the right track after you get sober. Call (512) 605-2955 to learn more about our Austin recovery center and services today.

Know thy enemy. When it comes to succeeding in recovery from substance use, identifying the potential hazards in advance is the key to protecting the new life you have worked so hard to craft. Creating a relapse prevention plan is the first actionable step to take to help shore up recovery following inpatient treatment.

With the understanding that a substance use disorder is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain, it is clear that the recovery process must involve a concentrated effort to avoid recurrence. A relapse prevention plan provides a workable blueprint that can help someone new in recovery from veering off-track. This can be a written document, a workbook, or a verbal plan that was developed while still in treatment. Steps to take to protect recovery might include distractions, such as hitting the gym or going for a hike. It may mean calling a sponsor or supportive family member. It might involve hiring a sober companion. There are umpteen actionable steps to include in the plan to ward off a relapse.

The more care you take with developing this important plan of action, the more effective it will be when cravings emerge or triggers spark uncomfortable emotions. The plan should be thorough and honest, with multiple responses that can be utilized when the time comes when recovery is threatened.

The high risk of relapse is a tangible reminder of the foe you are facing down. In fact, before leaving treatment you should have identified the potential landmines and have a defined plan of attack under your belt in the form of a well-crafted relapse prevention plan.

Always remember that recovery exists on a continuum. As the journey unfolds there will likely be bumps in the road, which should not be viewed as failure. Instead the challenges faced in recovery should be seen as just that, as simply obstacles to overcome. An ironclad relapse prevention plan can help minimize those challenges.

Relapse is a return to drug and/or alcohol use after a period of abstinence.3 There are several things that a person can do to minimize episodes of relapse, including making a plan for recovery. Part of strategizing for recovery can be writing a relapse prevention plan and taking steps to help yourself stick to it. While the relapse prevention plan may not always be written down (e.g., a verbal agreement), writing it down can have several benefits.

A relapse prevention plan that is written down can serve as a handy and concrete physical guide that can be referenced as needed. This plan is often discussed and ironed out during counseling and therapy sessions as part of a complete addiction treatment program; however, it can be created in any setting at any time.

A plan can serve as a blueprint to fall back on in times of stress, reminding you of your options in that moment and of your goals for moving forward. It can keep you accountable and focused on recovery. Relapse prevention plans are highly personal, tailored to your own specific circumstances, triggers, and needs.

A relapse prevention plan will feature a concrete course of action, outlining coping mechanisms and ideas for managing cravings and triggers in times of stress.4 The plan can be amended and added to as time goes on and needs change. The more detailed your plan is, the more likely it is to be helpful during a variety of situations and events.

A relapse prevention plan is individual, and it will not be the same for everyone. It is important for you to think about what you want out of recovery and what your own personal goals for the future are.

Finding hobbies that keep you busy and occupy the mind can be a great relapse prevention tool as well. Take up a creative outlet like dance or painting, attend a yoga class, and find ways to help yourself relax. Decide how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally, and make plans to schedule this practice into your daily life.

In the same respect, consider a list of consequences as well. Write down what may happen if a relapse does occur. Will you lose your job, your house, or your family? Could you go to jail? A list of the potential consequences of addiction can serve as a reminder of why sobriety is the better option.\n"}Relapse Prevention Plan ExampleA relapse prevention plan can serve as a way to improve all aspects of life and hold yourself accountable. Refer back to the plan often to remind yourself why you are doing this and how to keep it up. The plan may change with time and as you identify new or different areas of your life that you may wish to focus on.

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