In the substance abuse world, the word “relapse” is used regularly. While there are different definitions of “relapse” depending on the modality of intervention you abide by, it all ultimately means the same thing: you are close to or already have started using your substance again. By having a strong relapse prevention plan in place, the risk of relapse can be reduced. The following three areas of focus are a good place to start:
These are people, places, things or sensory components that can remind you of using substances. They can be sounds, smells, places you used, or people you used with. Uncomfortable emotions could also be considered triggers. Especially if they were feelings or emotions you used substances to numb in the past. Identifying these is important – not to avoid them completely – but to build an awareness of your individual sensitive spots.
2. Warning Signs
When a trigger is not managed, it usually turns into a warning sign. These are thoughts or behaviors that may have been consistent with your use. Are you thinking about meeting a friend at the park you used to smoke at? Are you feeling triggered and finding yourself wanting to isolate instead of use your coping skills such as reaching out to a friend?
3. Risky Situations
If warning signs are not managed they can turn into risky situations. This is when we actually find ourselves about to use our substance of choice. Are you AT that park? Have you turned your phone on silent or ignoring phone calls/texts? What are Risky Situations for you specifically?
A solid relapse prevention plan or strategy is imperative – especially in early recovery. Going to a treatment center or a professional organization to get help for addiction is critical. They can assist in helping you thoroughly organize your discharge plan, including useful relapse prevention strategies.