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Relapse Prevention

The process of getting through any type of addiction can be extremely difficult and trying for everyone involved. Fortunately there is help out there that can get anyone through this time so that they come out with the tools they need to overcome addiction. Unfortunately there is a high percentage, from 50%-90%, of people who will relapse after they get sober. Luckily there are tools out there that can help with relapse prevention so that anyone can get through even the toughest of times without turning back to drugs or alcohol.

What Is Relapse?

Relapse is a time when someone turns back to their addiction because of different things going on in their life. There are three different stages of relapse that include: emotional, mental and physical. The first part starts with an individual feeling things like anger, isolation, anxiety or other emotions that make them feel like they need their drug once again. Since most people don't get help at this stage, they will rapidly begin to go through the second and third stages without stopping to think.

The second stage is mental relapse, which is when a war is going on inside of the mind of the person addicted. These thoughts could be triggered by lying, thinking about places where they used to use or even hanging out with friends that they used to do drugs with. The last stage is the physical relapse, which is where the person actually does what is necessary to get their drug of choice. For example, this could be driving to a liquor store and picking up the bottle of vodka that they have been thinking about.

How Does Relapse Prevention Work?

Stage 1

The first part of preventing relapse is to recognize the first stage. When you realize that you're feeling isolated or that your behavior is starting to change, that is a big sign that you need to ask for help. Not changing your behavior and thinking can easily lead to falling into the second stage of relapse, which gets tougher to overcome. Self-care is one of the most important things anyone overcoming an addiction can practice. This means taking good care of your body, getting a lot of sleeping and letting go of fears as well as resentments.

Stage 2

Once individuals hit the mental urges stage of relapse, they will think that their addiction is "okay" because they will be able to control themselves. This is generally not the case, as the majority of individuals who relapse don't get sober again or die as a result of an overdose. This is a vicious cycle that should be avoided, which is why mental urges have to be dealt with. This is when it's important to speak with someone like a sponsor or even just a friend or family member.

It's important to get off your mind what you are feeling, what you are thinking and how your urges are affecting you. This is going to help make the urges feel like they are less important. It's also important to get involved with hobbies that are healthy and good for you, especially if they mean avoiding old friends or trigger areas that will lead to eventual drug use again. Meditation is another great tool that can clear your mind and provide a lot of much-needed relaxation.

Other Ways to Overcome Temptation:

  • Avoid high risk situations, like going to parties or working at a job that makes you feel like you need an escape.
  • If you can't avoid a high risk situation, then have a supporter with you so that you can speak about your feelings and leave, if necessary.
  • Change your friends or circle of people you hang out with. These individuals may influence you more than you realize.
  • Be honest with yourself and those who are there to support you. If you can do this, then you will be much more likely to avoid a relapse.

Stage 3

If you hit the physical relapse stage it's going to be extremely difficult to overcome the urge to use once again. This is why it's so important to use the above techniques as soon as you feel like you might be on the verge of relapsing. If you can, call a sponsor or go to a place where you can be safe and away from temptation.