Strategic Prevention: Planning to Avoid Relapse

Jan 31, 2022

The threat of relapse is a constant struggle at any point in one’s recovery. From the difficult and intense withdrawal symptoms present during detox to urges and cravings that can pollute one’s mind even after one has graduated from a treatment program, stress, anxiety, depression, and triggers can all be difficult hurdles to constantly overcome. Because relapse is such a ubiquitous concern at all stages of recovery, it is best to prepare for it as early as possible. Planning strategies and creating support networks early, then adapting these strategies regularly, can create the best possible plan to maintain one’s sober lifestyle. 

The Persistent Threat of Relapse

Addiction is a complicated disease, and while it is possible to overcome the many trials it presents, there is no definitive “cure” for addiction, and an individual may continue to feel its effects years into their sobriety. As a result, it is important to always have a plan to cope with the potential for relapse, regardless of whether one is actively struggling with the idea of reengaging with these destructive substances or even when times are looking positive. It can be impossible to gauge when a new stressor may emerge or how stress can compile in one’s mind, and having ready-made strategies can mitigate some of the dangers of relapse. 

Urges and cravings may also be common well into one’s sobriety. However, simply feeling an urge or craving isn’t cause for dire panic. Experiencing these things is a normal part of the ongoing recovery process. Feeling an urge to reengage with alcohol or reach back out to one’s old dealer can feel dangerous but does not indicate that one is “failing” in their journey for a sober future. However, acting on these compulsive urges and cravings can have disastrous effects, and planning ahead to process and avoid these intense feelings without succumbing to relapse is paramount for one’s continued sobriety. 

Strategies for Preventing Relapse

Preventing relapse requires a collection of strategies. Whether an individual is just beginning their recovery journey or moving out of a dedicated treatment facility and back into the “real world,” there can always be new, unforeseen stressors. Goals and priorities may also shift and change, adapting to one’s developing identity and sober goals. Managing one’s strategies for preventing relapse is just as fluid a process, and exploring new coping mechanisms and grounding strategies while refining what works best for each unique individual is a core part of the process. Staying open to new ideas allows an individual to better fill out their recovery toolkit while creating the most opportunities to discover one’s own identity while coping with the threat of relapse. 

Prioritize Self-Care

Moving out of a curated treatment facility and continuing one’s recovery efforts in their own living space is a very difficult transition. Living on one’s own or with friends and family, tending to professional obligations, and taking care of personal responsibilities are all a part of the healing process. However, they also come with a great deal of stress. Self-care is the best way to help each individual balance these stressful responsibilities while managing their own emotional state. 

Scheduling sufficient time for self-care, whether it be to engage in personal hobbies such as art, music, or cinema, practicing yoga, meditation, or even turning one’s phone off and watching one’s favorite show for a while in the evenings, are all valid necessities for daily life. Having dedicated time for self-care can prevent stresses from becoming trapped in the back of one’s mind, festering until needing to express themselves in less directed or ill-informed ways. 

Keep Connected With Supports

Supports are crucial players throughout recovery. Making daily efforts to talk to supports and keep an open dialogue moving can greatly aid an individual in preventing relapse. Having a ready dialogue and trusted people to reach out to at any time of day can allow an individual to talk through urges before acting on them, providing essential time and perspective that can help an individual regain their priorities instead of acting on an impulse. Keeping dialogues open and moving each day, such as ensuring one is sending daily text updates, can scaffold the practice of reaching out and communicating when needed, all while refining the most effective communication strategies. Even simple good morning texts, emails about one’s workday, or pictures of one’s pet can all keep a person connected with supports for when more heavy topics need to be discussed in turn. 

Outpatient and Continuing Care

Graduating from a detox or residential program does not mean one’s journey with recovery has concluded. Addiction is a tireless disease that will continue to impact an individual for years to come, and maintaining attendance in outpatient care is essential. Having professionals available can continue to refine one’s coping strategies in ways pertinent to their lives and provide a safety net in case relapse does come to fruition. However, relapse does not mean that one is somehow beyond recovery or a sober future. Keeping connected with informed professionals can help each person return to their sober life and effectively analyze and prepare for any future hurdles to come. 

Relapse is an intense and difficult experience, and avoiding relapse is a tireless task. At Renassaince Ranch, we understand the difficulty of coping with stresses, urges, and relapse on a constant basis, as well as the importance of maintaining your sobriety. Our personalized approach to each unique situation allows us to customize your time with us. This enables us to meet you at any stage in your recovery process. Whether you are just beginning your journey to sobriety in our detox program or are looking to continue building on your relapse-prevention strategies as an alumnus, we are prepared to help you. Our family program also allows for families to learn and heal together, creating a powerful support network and connections to aid in relapse prevention. Furthermore, our online resources ensure that there is always a way to connect when you need it most. For more information on how we can help, call us today at (801) 308-8898.