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Relapse Prevention


According to trusted sources like the Office of National Drug Control and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 46 percent of those who have completed a successful rehabilitation or drug or alcohol addiction program in Montana will relapse into old habits within the first two to five years. Preventing these painful, dangerous, and potentially life-altering relapses—and avoiding the struggles that often accompany a repeat attempt at rehab and addiction therapy—comes down to much more than simply learning to say “no” when faced with old temptations. In fact, the most important steps you can take toward preventing future relapses is to learn comprehensive and specialized techniques for coping with the scenarios most likely to lead to setbacks.

Anyone who has never had an addiction may not realize that there is more to avoiding a potential relapse than learning to simply say “no thank you” when faced with an old temptation after completing a rehabilitation treatment and detoxification. In fact, the realities of living a clean and sober lifestyle are complex and ever-evolving.

Facing temptation and old demons—especially within the first three to five years post-rehab—requires having a comprehensive plan in place to cover the potential for relapses. Step-by-step preparations to cover stressful situations, social interactions, emotional and mental triggers, and emergency conditions are especially essential.

Preventing Relapse with Help and a Plan

Whether you’ve undergone rehabilitation and addiction treatment for alcohol and drug dependence, an eating disorder, gambling disorder, dual diagnosis, or other issue altogether, it’s essential to keep in mind that remaining sober isn’t an isolated activity. Remember that addiction itself is an isolating circumstance.

On the contrary, recovery and continued sobriety require continued support and help, especially at those moments when you’re at your most vulnerable. Building a strong support group is an invaluable asset once you’ve completed detox and rehab. As you move through the phases of the recovery process, you will also find yourself interacting on a daily basis with people who share similar needs, fears, weaknesses, and concerns. It’s important to keep these things in mind as you begin to formulate a plan to fall back on during your aftercare phase and during relapse prevention. It’s these same supportive personalities to whom you will turn during times of struggle.

As you begin the transition from recovery and into regular life, your newly built support system will be an important element in many parts of the relapse prevention system, including developing an aftercare system that helps diminish the possibility of needing a second course of rehab, and helping find appropriate social interactions and recreational situations as you find your footing and begin to live your life again outside of treatment.

Equally important, developing positive and strong sober friendships can help encourage and steady you, as well as providing an access and outlet for communication—all of which are key elements in planning and composing a plan for moments when relapse is an imminent danger—a particular concern during the first few years post-rehabilitation, though it can be a genuine fear at any point.

Understanding the Warning Signs of Potential Relapse

Arguably, the most important step when it comes to preventing relapse is to know and comprehend the triggers that are most likely to signal a break in willpower. While it’s true that cravings can (and sometimes do) come on quickly and can be unaccompanied by warning signs, there are also often specific situations and circumstances that can trigger thoughts of relapse.

These factors will vary widely by person and situation, but among the most common culprits are:

  • Divorce, breakups, or other major relationship changes
  • Death of a relative, close friend, or other loved one
  • Any type of major financial stress
  • Loss of employment, work stress, or job difficulty
  • Health issues or sickness (their own or that of someone close)
  • Social pressure or stressful social interactions
  • Finding themselves surrounded by friends or in familiar circumstances/ in a similar environment to when they used to drink or abuse drugs.

You have the power to avoid relapse. Contact an addiction specialist today to learn how you can take control of your life again.