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How To Develop A Bulletproof Relapse Prevention Plan

Last Updated: Sep 15th 2022

Reviewed by North Jersey Recovery Center

A relapse is not defined by a singular event. Think of it more as an ongoing process that is experienced from someone in recovery who is displaying various red flags and warning signs. The glaring warning signs can cause a person to return to their previous life of drug and alcohol addiction–but what if there was a way to weather the storm and prevent this from occurring altogether? This is where a relapse prevention plan with North Jersey Recovery Center, comes into the fold. A tool of this caliber could be the difference between failed sobriety vs successful sobriety. 

What Is A Relapse Prevention Plan?

As many are aware, relapse is a return to the use of drugs and alcohol after a period of sustained abstinence. Just like other facets of life, it’s better to have a plan ahead of time, so that it’s more feasible to attain and stay on track with your goals, the same is also true for relapse prevention plans. The term denotes a written down plan that can serve as a fully-functional guide. The specifics of the plan are usually ironed out with our drug and alcohol interventionists in Bergen County NJ, as it’s considered an integral component of an addiction treatment program. 

However, there are no stringent rules for when/where this should be made. A relapse prevention plan can be created in any setting, at any time. Think of the plan as a pillar of strength during times of stress, anguish, and anything else that can potentially derail you from the progress you’ve made, thus far. These motivators are highly personalized and are always tailored to your triggers, needs, and individual circumstances. 

The 3 Stages Of Relapse

The term relapse is very broad. There are many moving parts to the act of relapse that many may not be familiar with. They are as follows:

  • Emotional: Repressing or hiding emotions. Avoiding your loved ones, forsaking your recovery duties, neglecting self-care. 
  • Mental: This could involve one flirting with the idea of using drugs and alcohol again, romanticizing their past drug use, searching for release opportunities, or even planning their relapse. 
  • Physical: People giving into their urges and using drugs or alcohol again.

Even if relapse only happens once, the need for intervention from drug and alcohol interventionists in Bergen County NJ is still needed, to address the physical and emotional hindrances they have experienced. 

So What Makes Relapse So Dangerous?

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of relapse is the person’s dissipation of their level of tolerance–which could unfortunately lead to overdose or death. When a person abuses a drug, the brain adjusts and attempts to compensate for its effects. Once the drug use has concluded, the brain will revert to its normal functions pretty quickly. Being sober, even for a short amount of time, elicits these changes, including overall tolerance. The smallest dose of any drug is enough to exude adverse effects in the body.

Is Relapsing Ever “Normal”?

Relapsing is sometimes normal–but is more likely for someone that deviates from their treatment plan. It’s estimated that between 40-60% of patients in addiction recovery may relapse, but this is not to suggest that treatment is defunct. All it means is that the inner workings of your treatment plan need to be restructured, which is why a relapse prevention plan is a great reinforcer. 

Creating A Seamless, Relapse Prevention Plan

A relapse prevention plan is undeniably an imperative piece of the recovery puzzle. Strategies will vary from person to person, but the following 5 components are always apart of any conventional plan. 

#1- Self Assessment and Reflection

What were the factors that contributed to your initial drug and alcohol use before you landed in treatment? Was it a catharsis? A way of coping with egregious trauma? Or was it like a mental home away from home? In recognizing your usage patterns, it can help pinpoint the elements that drove you into the arms of addiction in the first place. 

#2- Identifying your Triggers and Warning Signs

Triggers are experiences, events, or even other people that can lead you astray from sobriety back into substance abuse. Triggers look different for everyone, but developing an awareness of your own and tracking them can help you avoid it. 

#3- Plan For The Worst

This step sounds like it’s riddled with negative connotations–but the truth is, you don’t want to be stuck without a plan, if relapse happens. Write out a step-by-step plan that details how you will prepare if a relapse occurs. Additionally, create a separate list of people you can talk to when you feel like old habits and deviant behaviors are resurfacing. These people should be your confidantes and on the same page about your long-term sobriety goals.

#4- Involve Others

Involving other people in your recovery journey is paramount for long-lasting change. Whether it’s someone from a support group, a close friend, therapists, point being, it should be someone to confide in when drug cravings or negative influences are reappearing. With this level of involvement comes the building blocks of healthy thinking. In this context, healthy thinking distracts you from cravings, negative relationships, and instead allows you to occupy healthy outlets and the people in them. 

#5- Setting Goals For Healthy Lifestyle

Goal-setting is yet another key step in your relapse prevention plan. Its effectiveness knows no bounds, but for good reason, as it continually drives home the point of healthy living. Goals can be set on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or infinite basis. What does this look like? Here are a few examples that could help propel you down this healthy path:

  • Yoga
  • Martial arts
  • Creating healthy meal plans

Not only do these efforts revitalize your overall well-being, but it could also prompt you to re-evaluate your sense of value and self-worth. 

Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

At North Jersey Recovery Center, our drug and alcohol interventionists in Bergen County NJ can help you craft a bulletproof relapse prevention plan, making the rest of your recovery process seem much more attainable. Our compassionate team of medical professionals works one-on-one with patients to create a solid plan of action, reducing the likelihood of relapse after rehab. Your journey to a healthy life is near. Contact us today to get started!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by North Jersey Recovery Center

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