Whether a patient is celebrating years of sobriety or taking their first step into a detox treatment program, relapse is a constant concern. Being prepared for the threat of relapse and having a plan is essential for helping patients maintain sobriety while promoting the development of further sober strategies and personal goals. 

There is no point that it is too early to begin preparing for relapse. With the tumultuous change that marks the beginning of the recovery journey, creating a relapse prevention plan early in a patient’s recovery can promote a healthy, fulfilling, and transformative experience throughout the beginning of their addiction treatment.

The Dangers of Relapse in Early Recovery

Relapse is a constant threat for those exploring a sober life, but it is by no means a necessary or inevitable part of the recovery process. Discussing the dangers of relapse with a patient can prepare them to cope with its stresses as early as possible.

Relapse is more than just an individual using an addictive substance again. While an individual taking a sip of alcohol and putting the drink back down to refocus on sober priorities should be discussed, it constitutes more of a “slip” than a relapse. Instead, relapse is a full return to addictive substances and brings a return to previous lifestyle choices and social groups that facilitate the use of addictive substances.

This return to self-destructive behaviors presents many dangers for a patient, and their use can be riskier than ever. A patient’s tolerance may have decreased during their time in a center for alcohol and drug treatment. Engaging with addictive substances in the same manner as before can easily lead to dangerous levels of use, including misjudging one’s tolerance, resulting in a drug overdose. Having plans to prevent this as early in one’s recovery as possible can help mitigate these disastrous outcomes.

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Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Relapse prevention plans address multiple sources of stress that may impact a patient’s sobriety and have strategies to best recognize stresses, avoid triggers, and prevent a patient from reengaging with addictive substances. Having multiple approaches to address these factors can produce the most comprehensive plan, with applicable techniques for multiple situations that a patient may find themselves in.

Be Cognizant of New Stresses

It is common that those beginning their recovery journey are not yet aware of all the different stresses or triggers they face on a daily basis. One’s sobriety can be significantly impacted if one is not prepared to address them. While detox may be conducted in a curated environment, familial stresses, workplace stresses, relationships, and any other kind of influence all carry a massive influence on one’s use of addictive substances.

Relapse during the infancy of one’s recovery is common, but having strategies to identify stresses is crucial. Such things as having a patient journal their days can help identify and inform one’s future sobriety plans while managing exposure to stress.

Involving Others

Professionals and supports all play a crucial role in relapse prevention. Creating plans that involve family members can provide a sense of safety whether an individual is within the walls of a treatment facility or out in the “real world.” However, these supports don’t necessarily have to come in the form of family members specifically.

Depending on a patient’s unique situation and relationships, close friends may be the best support for the situation. Discussing with patients their most important relationships can inform the best supports and thus identify the right resources to involve in a relapse prevention plan.

Reflect on Stresses

Scheduling time to reflect on the day can also empower a patient to analyze their stresses and emotions. By providing space for an individual to think back on their day and create distance between themselves and trying events, patients can better understand their own areas of focus for relapse prevention. This time is also dedicated to reflecting on one’s sober goals and reasons for pursuing sobriety. By reflecting on stresses and sobriety, an individual can better contextualize their own behaviors and feelings and make educated decisions for their sober future.

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Set Small, Daily Goals

Setting sober goals is a skill in and of itself, and while a patient may have grand goals for themselves in the future, it is just as important to set small, daily goals for each individual. Cooking one’s own meal can be a massive milestone worthy of celebration, and making it through an entire day without using drugs may be something that once seemed impossible. By keeping the focus on smaller, intimate goals, a patient can watch their recovery in motion and better motivate themselves each day, preventing potentially compromising feelings of doubt from setting in.

There is no point in recovery that is “too early” to begin creating a relapse prevention plan. Working alongside patients to develop these plans can produce the best possible path toward sustained, healthy sobriety. 

Developing relapse prevention plans and navigating stresses, urges, and cravings are all part of the recovery process here at Hawaii Island Recovery. We are committed to helping you and your patients find the best relapse prevention and treatment programs in Hawaii. Our unique approach to sobriety can meet patients at any stage in their journey, guiding individuals from detox to residential, partial hospitalization, and continued outpatient care, all in our luxurious and professionally staffed Hawaiian sober living and recovery center. A patient’s time with us can also be personalized to address their specific needs. We can help individuals prevent relapse while addressing the forces that lay beneath the surface in addiction, managing stresses, anxiety, depression, and much more in our substance abuse and dual-diagnosis treatment. For more information, call to speak to one of our caring, trained staff members today at (866) 390-5070.

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