Interested in starting your healing journey? Speak with an admissions counselor now
We're Hiring!
Apply for Jobs Now

Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Addiction can affect every part of your life–your mental and physical wellbeing, your financial and social health, and your family and community. Getting treatment for addiction is the best way to overcome it and go on to live a healthy, fulfilling life.

When you complete a treatment program, you may feel strong and confident in your ability to stay sober. You might feel ready and able to use the skills you have been practicing for weeks or months. Or, you may feel unsure about how you will handle certain situations, or lack confidence that you are ready to leave treatment.

Whether you leave treatment bursting with confidence or you feel a little unsure, having a relapse prevention plan is crucial to your long-term success in recovery. Staying sober for the rest of your life requires commitment–not just to sobriety, but to a new way of living. A relapse prevention plan is not simply a list of things you can do in an emergency. It is a plan for how you will take care of yourself, continue to learn about your addiction, and navigate challenges.

Benefits of Having a Relapse Prevention Plan

As with most things in life, a little bit of preparation can go a long way. Having a plan to prevent a relapse is kind of like walking a tightrope with the aid of a safety net. You may feel more able to embrace your new life in recovery if you know that your plan is in place. There are many significant benefits to making a relapse prevention plan. They include:

  1. Planning to use strategies that will help you avoid falling back into unhealthy patterns of thoughts and behavior.
  2. Gives you a concrete plan to share with loved ones, medical professionals, and your treatment team. This makes it more likely that you’ll have knowledgeable, compassionate support when you need it.
  3. Identify potential situations, people, or events that could trigger cravings or relapse.
  4. Focus on personal strengths, supportive people, and coping skills that can help avoid a relapse.

The process of making a relapse prevention plan can help you mentally rehearse how you will handle challenges to your recovery. It also allows you to network with professionals and loved ones who can actively support you on your lifelong recovery journey.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

When people imagine what would lead to a relapse, they might imagine a quick decision or a knee-jerk response to a trigger. The truth is that in most cases, a relapse happens over time and in progressive stages. These stages are emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse.

The emotional relapse usually starts with a person experiencing negative emotions that might lead them to consider drinking or doing drugs again. The mental relapse is the beginning of the thoughts about using drugs or alcohol to numb the feelings of discomfort. If the person actually begins using drugs or drinking, that is defined as a physical relapse.

When thinking about the progressive stages of a relapse, it’s clear to see that a relapse prevention plan must include care for your emotional health.

Take care of your mental health

Self-care is important in recovery–and we’re not just talking about bubble baths. Real, effective self-care means being proactive about taking care of your mental health. This means taking regular breaks from stressful situations, regularly socializing with people who support you, and continuing to engage in individual and group therapy.

Stay active in recovery

As part of your relapse prevention plan, think about ways to engage regularly in recovery. This could be attending addiction support groups, alumni groups, or spending time in a sober living community. Recovery does not end after you complete a treatment program. It must be woven into the rest of your life.

Focus on support

For many people, recovery from addiction involves building–and sometimes, re-building–relationships with people who can support them. Every relapse prevention plan must include people who you can call on when you need help. This could be people from a sober living community, trusted friends and family, or medical and addiction professionals.

How to Make a Plan That Will Help You Prevent Relapse

Understanding what needs to go into your relapse prevention plan and how to make the plan are different things. The process of making a plan might feel easy for some people, and for others, it might be a challenge. The following steps might help you get started.

  1. Work with an addiction counselor. Your addiction counselor may have their own experience in successfully forming a relapse prevention plan, or they are likely to have helped others make one.
  2. Assess your own history of substance abuse. What situations lead to using drugs or alcohol? When were you likely to use? What happened before a relapse?
  3. Identify triggers and warning signs. Think about what led to substance abuse in the past or what situations are triggering now. Consider what you do, think, or feel before using. Tell other people your warning signs so they can help you identify them.
  4. Make an action plan. Your plan should include both preventative and responsive actions you will take to prevent relapse. Plan for what you will do when triggers and cravings happen, not if they happen.

Your relapse prevention plan should include how you will take care of your mental health, tools you will use to avoid triggers, who you can call in an emergency, and the location and schedule of support groups and meetings. Your plan will be unique to you. Make your plan and share it with people who support you.

Relapse Prevention Planning at Mandala Healing Center

If you or someone you love require substance abuse treatment or support at any stage of addiction recovery, please reach out to the staff at the Mandala Healing Center. We offer a range of programs designed to support and empower people as they overcome addiction. With the right support and care, recovery is possible. Don’t wait another day for the healing treatment you deserve. Call now to speak to one of our admissions counselors.