Relapse Prevention

The first stages of addiction relapse can occur long before the drug or drink re-enters the body, beginning as soon as the individual returns to old ways of thinking and coping – it may be weeks or even months later before actually using again. There’s almost always time for successful relapse prevention, which is part of the programs offered by American Addiction Centers.


What is Relapse Prevention?

Relapse prevention includes planning and commitment to following that plan. Because there are numerous warning signs before a relapse, a key part of a relapse prevention plan is being honest about what events might trigger a relapse, and determining how to respond ahead of time.

Reviewing potential relapse “triggers” and appropriate responses is something that should include those aiding the addict’s recovery effort, such as a counselor or 12-step program sponsor. Successful recovery requires the help of others, and relapse prevention is perhaps the best example.

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What are relapse “triggers?”

Many things can trigger a relapse, including difficult emotional events such as a divorce or death of a loved one. Oftentimes, however, the subtle things can bring on a relapse, including anxiety, anger, irritability, mood swings, isolation and poor eating/sleeping habits. These emotional and behavioral triggers only grow more powerful if left unaddressed. For example, poor eating and sleeping habits can lead to exhaustion, which can prompt the desire to escape, which can then bring on thoughts of using again.

After relapsing, can I enter treatment again?

Yes, though there are many clients who relapse and never find their way back into treatment. The journey from addiction to recovery has often been described as a trip to hell and back. After escaping hell, do you really want to go back there again and risk not finding your way home?

How do relapse prevention plans work?

  1. First, relapse prevention plane initially involve those around the individuals, including sponsors/counselors and family. A supportive family can make all the difference between recovery and relapse. Friends and family who seek their own counseling or attend 12-step groups such as Al-Anon, for friends and family of problem drinkers, learn how to best help their loved one stay clean.
  2. Secondly, it’s not enough to identify possible relapse “triggers.” He or she must also alter response to these triggers. For example, an alcoholic can avoid bars or parties that trigger the desire to resume drinking. If work-related stress is a relapse trigger, they can learn how to say no to extra projects, limit their total workweek to 45 hours or try meditation and relaxation exercises to unwind.
  3. Thirdly, and perhaps, most importantly – when help is needed, they must ask for it.

I’ve recently relapsed… now what?

Although you or your loved one may feel disappointed, don’t become bogged down in guilt or self-pity; many in recovery relapse at some point. The goal of recovery is progress, not perfection. Relapse is an indication that something is wrong with the recovery program, not that long-term sobriety is impossible. The problem must be identified and fixed.

If you or a loved one needs help for drug or alcohol abuse, contact us today to speak with one of our caring and experienced Treatment Consultants. We can answer any questions regarding the information on this site, and work with you to develop individualized plans for treatment provided by American Addiction Centers.

No matter your insurance, be it Cigna, Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross / Blue Shield (BCBS), Assurant, Unicare, United Health Care, Anthem, Carefirst, Asuris Northwest Health, Golden Rule, Celtic Insurance, Fortis, Health Net, Kaiser, Vista, Shelter, Wellpoint, Tri Care, Accordia or even Medicare, and state insurance — we can help you with relapse prevention. We also offer many affordable self pay options as well as luxury drug rehab.