What to Include in a Relapse Prevention Plan

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What to Include in a Relapse Prevention Plan

Recovering from addiction requires treatment, support, and ongoing commitment to sobriety. Navigating the earliest days and weeks of recovery can be tricky. You are likely to face unexpected challenges and setbacks.

Hoping to prevent relapse isn’t enough. Instead, you need to make a plan to address challenges head-on. Creating a relapse prevention plan can help you navigate triggers, cravings, and challenges without losing sight of your long-term recovery goals.

This article will outline how to make an effective relapse prevention plan. You will learn:

  • How to recognize the stages of a relapse
  • How to create a plan to avoid relapses
  • What to include in your relapse prevention plan
  • Where to find treatment and support in recovery

Reach out to the team at Archstone Behavioral Health if you or someone you love lives with addiction. Our specialists can answer your questions or offer guidance at any stage of recovery.

What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention plan is a detailed plan outlining how you will prevent relapse during recovery. You can work with an addiction specialist, counselor, or sober coach to tailor a recovery plan to meet your unique needs. Relapse prevention therapy is also included in most treatment programs.

Your relapse prevention plan will include:

  • Information about potential triggers
  • Healthy coping strategies to use
  • Information about your recovery support system

Creating a recovery plan can help you feel better prepared and more in control when challenges arise. Making your plan can also help you identify places, people, and other situations that may trigger a relapse.

Why is a Relapse Prevention Plan Important?

Finishing an addiction rehab program can make you feel so many emotions. You may feel excited about your fresh start toward a healthier future. You may worry that you are not prepared or feel completely confident in your ability to remain sober for life.

These and other feelings are expected. Completing an addiction treatment program is a significant milestone in your recovery. It typically signals a transition into a new stage of recovery–one where you may have more freedom.

People may leave rehab feeling optimistic about the future. However, as time passes, many people realize their challenges haven’t disappeared. Without using drugs or alcohol to cope, many people struggle or feel overwhelmed. Others may feel so confident in their ability to stay sober that they avoid preparing for setbacks or challenges.

Whether you leave rehab feeling hopeful about the future or worry about what will happen in recovery, a relapse prevention plan can give you peace of mind.

What Should I Include in My Relapse Prevention Plan?

A relapse prevention plan should include information that helps you navigate recovery and prevent relapse. Here is an overview of what to include in your recovery plan.

Potential triggers

Recognizing your triggers is essential to long-term recovery. Consider the places, people, emotions, and situations that could lead to cravings. Include in your plan reminders of your triggers and how to avoid them.

Warning signs of a relapse

Relapses rarely occur suddenly. They typically occur in stages. The stages of a relapse are:

  • Emotional relapse: People face challenges or abandon effective coping strategies
  • Mental relapse: People may fantasize about drinking or using drugs or may focus only on the positive aspects of substance abuse
  • Physical relapse: Using drugs and alcohol, as well as all activities leading up to it.

Learning to identify the early stages of relapse can be helpful when creating a relapse prevention plan.

Write down the stages of a relapse. Note common early warning signs. Use this information to recognize a relapse and take steps to get back on track.

Healthy coping strategies

Make a list of healthy coping strategies you can use when faced with a trigger or other challenge. Your coping skills may include:

  • Finding a distraction, such as a game, hobby, or exercise
  • Reaching out to your support network, including family members or friends
  • Contacting your sober coach or counselor
  • Using mindfulness techniques to “ride the wave” of a craving

When you feel a craving coming on, you can refer to this list of effective coping techniques.

Contact information for your support system

When a craving arises, you may feel overwhelmed. It may be challenging to focus on anything other than ignoring the craving.

Make a list of important contact information and keep it on hand. Include contact information for:

  • Your addiction counselor
  • A sober coach
  • Your mental health treatment team
  • Supportive family and friends
  • Other critical community support people

Having this information readily available can help you navigate challenges without relapsing.

Your relapse prevention plan will be unique to your needs and goals in recovery. You can work on creating your plan during a substance abuse rehab program or as part of your aftercare program.

Find Addiction Treatment and Support

If you or someone you love struggles with substance use disorder (SUD), you are not alone. Effective, holistic treatment is available at Archstone Behavioral Health. Contact our intake specialists to schedule an intake assessment or to learn more about our programs.