Addiction is a chronic disease, and as such, you are always at risk for relapse, no matter how small the chance may be. It does not matter if you have been in recovery for two weeks or 20 years, risk always exists. However, there are many tools for relapse prevention that can help you stay on track and keep pushing forward.
What is Relapse in Drug Addiction?
Relapse occurs when you have been free from substance use for a period of time but then start using drugs or drinking again. You probably did not plan on it happening, but it did, and once you start, it can be difficult to stop. A relapse does not come out of nowhere. There are often warning signs such as:
- Spending time with old friends who still drink or use drugs
- Going back to old hangouts you used to frequent when you were in active addiction
- Not effectively managing stress or emotions
- No longer attending support group meetings
- Losing structure and routine in your day and giving up on doing things you enjoy
Implementing Relapse Prevention Tools
There are many relapse prevention strategies that you can use to keep yourself motivated and push through temptation and challenging situations. Having a variety of resources and making adjustments when one strategy is no longer as effective is beneficial. Here are just a few relapse prevention tools you might use:
- Attend support group meetings or individual therapy sessions
- Practice yoga or meditation to clear your mind and reduce frustration, anxiety, or stress
- Exercise to burn off excess energy and release endorphins, a natural mood booster
- Journal to get your thoughts down in writing and look at things from a different perspective
- Call a friend or sponsor to talk through issues and temptation and hold you accountable
- Engage in hobbies to provide structure to your day, do something you enjoy, and have more purpose
What to do if you Relapse
If you do experience a relapse, stop what you are doing and get yourself to a safe environment. Tell someone what happened so they can support you in getting back into recovery. You may have to return to a drug treatment facility to detox your body and reassess your approach to recovery and relapse prevention. Just because you relapse does not mean treatment has failed; it simply means that you need to adjust what you are doing and try again.
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