The Importance of a Relapse Prevention Plan

Although staying in recovery is possible, there is still a chance that individuals may relapse after completing treatment here at Rock Recovery Center. Because of this, we develop relapse prevention plans for each of our patients. This gives them the knowledge and tools needed to get back on their feet should a relapse happen.

What is Relapse, and Why Does it Happen?

In today’s world, addiction is recognized as a chronic mental illness. Through many years, researchers have found that it is not just something someone “gets over.” Because symptoms can last the entirety of an individual’s life, relapse is always possible.

Relapse is the act of returning to old habits and behaviors that heighten the possibility of triggering an addiction disorder to start again. Relapse happens because addiction is a very difficult disease to overcome. An individual may be six days or even six years into recovery and relapse. There is no time frame.

At Rock Recovery, our staff aims our patients’ attention in other directions besides turning back to addiction when things get hard. We show them how to recognize their relapse triggers and how to avoid them.

Types of Relapse Triggers

There is often a misconception around sobriety that it’s easy to maintain once treatment is complete. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Each day, someone in recovery must choose to be sober. They must understand the things that can trigger them to relapse and either avoid them entirely or find other outlets to put their attention on.

Some of the top relapse triggers include:

  • Stress and Anxiety: There are many stressors during and after leaving rehab. Because of the pressures someone may face during these times, it can cause them to relapse.
  • Peer Pressure: Being around other people who abuse substances can prompt an individual in recovery to relapse.
  • Challenging Emotions: Dealing with negative emotions can be hard after suppressing them for so long with substances. This can cause an individual to want to use substances in order to cope.
  • Celebrations or Holidays: During times of celebration or holidays, individuals in recovery are constantly surrounded by temptation. This is especially true if they are around family and friends during these times.
  • Objects or Places of Addiction: This can include things like smelling smoke, watching someone else drink, etc. can be a reminder of addiction. This may cause someone to want to fall back into old patterns.
  • Physical or Mental Illness: Because some individuals used substances for an extended period of time, this can cause other illnesses to form. These can be both mental and physical illnesses. They may want to relapse to provide themselves relief from the pain.

Deciphering which triggers have a significant impact on each patient’s recovery is very important while at our facility. We understand that if these are identified early, it can sometimes mean life or death for some of our patients.

The Three Stages of Relapse

Through each part of rehab, there is potential for relapse, as well as after leaving our facility. It’s most common for individuals to relapse after going through medical detoxification. Detox allows them to slowly wean their bodies off of the abused substance. During and after this process, they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms occur because their body is not used to being without the substance.

There are three stages of relapse to be mindful of when going through recovery: emotional, mental and physical. Each one is not more influential than the other. It all depends on how a person’s mind and body reacts to the withdrawal symptoms they experience.  

Stage One: Emotional Relapserelapse prevention plan

Emotional relapse is the first phase of relapse that can happen. An individual may not be consciously thinking about relapsing, but their ties to the substance can take a toll on their emotions. This can lead to emotional withdrawal symptoms to arise. Emotional withdrawal is normally caused because of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS.

PAWS can lead patients to start reacting to certain situations negatively and developing unhealthy behaviors. This can include things like:

  • Excessive mood swings
  • Unregulated sleeping habits
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Not taking care of hygiene or appearance
  • Trouble managing emotions, especially anger, anxiety, and fear

Stage Two: Mental Relapse

If the emotional stage is ignored, individuals can then move into the mental phase of relapse. In simple terms, this means that someone in recovery is going through a mental battle. They’re trying to decide if they should stay sober or if they should start using again. They’re looking for a way to cope and ignore what they are thinking and feeling. As someone goes deeper into the mental stage of relapse, it’s more difficult to get them out of it. 

Stage Three: Physical Relapse

Physical relapse is the stage of relapse we all can see. It is the phase where an individual begins to pick old habits back up. This can include things like sneaking around, displaying behavioral signs, and even overdosing. They begin to physically use their substance of choice again.

Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Creating a prevention plan is extremely important for those in recovery. Developing this is part of our program here at Rock Recovery. We want to give each of our patients a chance at avoiding relapse at all costs.

Why is a Relapse Prevention Plan Important?

It is estimated that around 40 to 60% of individuals in recovery will relapse during the recovery journey. Because of this, our staff at Rock Recovery puts an emphasis on developing a relapse prevention plan as soon as possible. This plan allows each patient to recognize signs, triggers and hopefully prevent relapse from happening. It can sometimes mean the difference between a patient being hospitalized or even life and death.

Parts of the Plan

Here are important tips to remember and practice after dealing with a relapse.

  1. Understand that relapse does not mean failure. A relapse is a setback, not a failure, and you can still return to recovery.  Emotional relapse tends to start way before physical relapse does. This is important to understand.
  2. Recognize the triggers of the relapse. What factors contributed to relapse occurring? How could they have been avoided? What will be done differently next time? 
  3. Stability is key. As soon as relapse is recognized, find outlets to become both mentally and physically stable again. This could mean talking with someone who is also in recovery or even reaching out to a medical professional. 
  4. There is no time for shame. It’s important to understand and acknowledge that the relapse happened. After this, there should be no hiding behind guilt of what happened. The longer shame is held onto, the harder it will be to become fully sober again.
  5. Find a community of people who understand. There is something to be said about a network of people who understand each other. A big part of avoiding relapse and becoming strong in recovery is constantly working at it. When someone finds a group of like-minded individuals to do this with, it will make it a lot easier.

Relapse Prevention PlanAvoiding Overdose

Because someone who has just left rehab has not been under the influence for a period of time, their tolerance goes down. If they decide to begin using again, they will most likely try to take the same amount of the substance as they were before. This often leads to overdose that can cause serious consequences.

The ultimate point of developing a relapse prevention plan is to avoid overdose at all costs. Our staff at Rock Recovery knows that it is a possibility. We want to do everything in our power that we can to deter each of our patients from choosing to use again. 

Why Choose Rock Recovery?

At Rock Recovery, we pride ourselves on being different from the rest of the treatment centers in Southern Florida. We offer an array of therapies from individual to family to recreational, and we recognize the importance of each one. Our sober living homes are among some of the best in the area, and they create a private, safe space for our patients. 

We also offer the full spectrum of treatment levels. This includes everything from residential to your standard outpatient programs. Our staff provides care in each of these that is unmatched. They are truly there to make a difference in our patients’ lives.

How Our Staff Can Help You

We understand that relapse can be a scary reality for some individuals in recovery. This is why we put an emphasis on creating relapse prevention plans for each of our patients. We want to help you avoid falling into old patterns and develop healthier lifestyle choices.

Please feel free to contact us today to start your treatment plan with us. Our team is available around the clock to answer your calls and messages.