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Relapse prevention requires introspection, planning and support

April 28, 2014

For those struggling with alcoholism or substance abuse, recovery most often begins at addiction treatment centers. At qualified facilities, a complete support network can help the person with a history of detrimental drug or alcohol use break free from the destructive cycles that have led him or her to seek help. Through hard work and commitment, anyone can complete a treatment program and improve his or her life.

However, some people may find staying clean in the period of time after their stay in an inpatient substance abuse treatment center more difficult. After all, sobriety is an everyday challenge, and without the system of support that professional counselors, therapists and fellow recovering drug and alcohol users provide, the threat of relapse often grows into a real danger in many people’s lives.

Even though those working through recovery may not have a dedicated support system built around them, there are various resources and steps they can take to make sure that they do not relapse and stay committed to their recovery each and every day.

Identify relapse triggers
One of the best ways to combat the threat of relapse is to understand why it happens in the first place. The BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information explained that those with a history of substance abuse may never leave behind the urge to go back to their old ways, so identifying when those desires may be exacerbated can better prepare people to exercise more self-control.

Many people believe that relapse begins with a drink or the injection of a drug, but that is often the last step in the relapse process. Certain events like breaking up with a long-term partner, meeting a friend who still uses, a bad day at work or even positive moments like a victory at a sporting event can produce strong emotions that someone in recovery may not be able to resist. Identifying when problematic situations are occurring is one way to lessen their effects.

Imagine a scenario
When the urge to use again grows strong no matter how aware of it the person working toward sobriety is, recommended taking a moment to think through the consequences of relapse. Addiction is not necessarily a logical choice, so going through the potential results of a drink or a puff can be an effective way to battle urges that surface for no good reason.

The effectiveness of this technique will vary depending on the history of the person in question, but everybody had a reason for seeking treatment for his or her conditions in the first place. If the person working toward sobriety can remember that reason and the ways in which relapse run counter to it, the urge to relapse may disappear.

Reach out for support
Addiction is a long-term condition and the experience of fighting for sobriety every single day may be difficult to explain to someone who has not gone through the events associated with drug and alcohol abuse. Professional counselors can talk a person into seeking recovery, but even they may not provide the camaraderie that those in recovery need.

In these cases, explained that reaching out to a fellow former user may be the most effective way to deal with the urges of relapse. The desire to use again may not have a simple answer, but talking through issues with someone else who understands them just as well can be a great way to lessen its impact. Rather than calling or talking to someone during emergency situations, it can also be a good idea to set up regular meetings around a social event or weekly meal.


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