Relapse Prevention

Helpful Solutions for Relapse Prevention Skills

Relapse prevention is one of the most critical aspects of recovery. While “relapse” is usually often associated with drug or alcohol addiction, you can apply the term to other maladaptive behaviors or issues. Relapse prevention can refer to coping skills that help keep a person from experiencing depression, anxiety, cutting, or other conditions. Keep in mind that some of these particular conditions have treatment considerations that uniquely apply to them. For example, you might use medication as an intervention for anxiety or depression. However, medication is not a cure in and of itself. You will still want to engage in other relapse prevention activities if part of your treatment is medication.

Treatment Planning and Honest Communication

While you are in recovery and following your treatment plan, you are responsible for rating your treatment’s efficacy. Your support team may observe behaviors that indicate a potential relapse. You may hear feedback from others in your support network or treatment team; however, you are ultimately responsible for evaluating their feedback. Only you can state how you are feeling. Only you can communicate your internal state to others. Honest communication needs to work both ways for relapse prevention. You need feedback from your team and you need to communicate with your team. Sharing honestly with your team and your support systems about what is working and what is not working can help you prevent relapse.

Inventory of Your Lifestyle

To be honest with your team, you also need to be honest with yourself. Sometimes, you might not always check in on yourself. You might be “going through the motions” of your recovery program without critically evaluating what is working and what is not. You have to take an inventory of your lifestyle to know what is helpful and what is not. You can take inventory of your lifestyle in several areas. Here are a few lifestyle areas that can help you get started:

  • Social Lifestyle:
    • How much satisfaction do you find in your social life?
    • What are the avenues that you use to connect with and meet others?
    • Are you spending a lot of time feeling lonely?
      • Note: spending time alone in self-reflection, immersed in your interests, or getting rest is different than feeling “lonely.”
      • Loneliness may result in spending too much time alone; however, this might depend on the quality of how we spend our alone time.
  • Family and Home Life:
    • How are the relationships in your family?
    • Are you feeling close to your family members or distant?
    • Is your home life peaceful or chaotic?
    • Your home environment can be an essential aspect of your recovery and relapse prevention.
  • Physical Health and Wellness
    • Are you eating healthy foods and drinking enough water?
    • Are you consuming unhealthy things, like excessive caffeine, energy drinks, sugary snacks or drinks, salty snacks, or processed foods?
    • Are you exercising regularly or engaging in some type of physical activity?
      • Sports
      • Walking
      • Hiking
      • Kayaking
      • Yoga
      • Weight Training
      • Running
      • Anything that gets you moving!
    • Are you sleeping too little or too much? Typically seven to nine hours of daily sleep is recommended. Sleeping too much can be a warning sign or a symptom of something else.
  • Mental Health and Wellness
    • How do you feel mentally?
    • Are you feeling calm or anxious most of the time?
    • Do you feel happy or sad much of the time?
    • Are you hopeful about the future or feeling bleak about your life?
    • We all experience negative emotions from time to time, depending upon what is going on in our lives. 
      • You need to know what is excessive or what is relatively standard. 
      • Excessive and lingering feelings of sadness for weeks or months might indicate a relapse of depression. 
      • Being anxious in anticipation of a life change or an upcoming event might be expected; however, feeling anxious for most of your day for weeks or months might mean that something is going wrong.
  • Maladaptive Coping
    • Are you using other means of coping that might not be healthy?
      • Excessive time on social media or playing video games
      • Drinking energy drinks throughout the day
      • Eating fast foods and other unhealthy foods
      • Sleeping most of the day
      • Vaping or using tobacco products
    • You might be substituting one unhealthy habit, like addiction or cutting, for another unhealthy coping mechanism.

Relapse prevention is about taking a proactive approach to your recovery. You might need to critically evaluate your progress to know what is and what is not working. You and your support team need to be honest with each other about your observations and perceptions. As you continue moving forward in recovery, strive toward health and wellness to prevent relapse. If you do relapse, remember that this might be part of the process. You might need to tweak your recovery planning and lifestyle. Once you find out what went wrong, you can plan to create a more hopeful and healthy future!

Listen to “Thomas Shanahan -Recovery Fitness and Relapse Prevention” on Spreaker.

Relapse prevention is about building a healthy lifestyle and committing yourself to your recovery. Finding new ways of managing your stress can help you stay ahead of relapse. You may need to take a personal inventory of certain aspects of your life. You might need to re-examine your social life, family relationships, physical and mental health, and any maladaptive coping mechanisms you are using. Relapse prevention requires honesty between you and the members of your treatment team. Ultimately, you are in charge of your recovery. When you are not honest about what is working and what is not, you may be at risk for relapse by finding the best pathway for yourself. Recovery is a journey that never really ends. You do not stop recovery following participation in treatment. You are building skills that will help you live a better life. For more information about recovery, call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center at (303) 443-3343.

Leave a Reply