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What Is Addiction Relapse Prevention?

Aug 17, 2007
The answer to the question of what is relapse prevention in addiction recovery, lies greatly in the definition of relapse. Simply put, relapse, for the recovering addict or alcoholic is commonly thought to be the act of taking that first drug or drink after maintaining a period of abstinence. Even though this is a generally accepted definition, the recovery, and drug and alcohol treatment communities generally agree that there is a relapse process that begins long before the actual first use has occurred.

It is often said in AA/NA circles that, nobody picks up while working a healthy program of recovery. The inherent meaning in that statement is that there are definitive behaviors that can be easily recognized and addressed long before it's too late. 'Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path'

There are several schools of thought however all would probably agree that education, awareness and action are vital to the prevention of relapse.

Education & Awareness:

* learn to recognize the various early warning signs or symptoms of relapse.
* identify the high risk situations or personal triggers that set in motion a series of downward spiraling events.

Action:

* develop a written relapse prevention plan that acts as a sort of insurance policy to deal with the symptom and triggers inherent in each recovering individual.
* build and maintain a sober support system to confront arising negative attitudes and behaviors.
* seek and accept help from support system and/or Drug and Alcohol Counselor.

Symptoms of Relapse and Relapse Triggers:

1. Complacency
2. Isolation
3. Dishonesty
4. Depression
5. Argumentativeness
6. Self pity
7. Cockiness
8. Expecting too much from others
9. Letting up on daily disciplines
10. Forgetting gratitude
11. Omnipotence
12. Selfishness
13. Not attending 12 meetings
14. Obsessive and compulsive thinking and behaving
15. Boredom
16. Maintaining resentments
17. Hanging around old 'people, places and things'
18. Keeping drugs and/or alcohol in the house
19. Grandiosity
20. Major or sudden life changes
21. Exhaustion

There are 3 things that are important to note concerning the education and prevention of relapse from drug and/or alcohol abstinence.

1. The first is that every individual has a set of relapse factors and triggers that are unique to them and should be dealt with accordingly

2. The second is that because drug addiction and alcoholism are diseases of denial, it is absolutely necessary to have a sober support system that is ready, willing and able confront any symptoms of relapse.

3. The third is the addict/alcoholic must have a relapse prevention plan in place to deal with the possible relapse. This plan could include a list of people and places to turn to for help as well as a list of action items to initiate.

There is a popular misconception that relapse is a neccesay part of addiction recovery. I disagree that it is inevitable. But, with the stakes so high, itcertainly makes sense to err on the side of caution and be aware the danger exists and make plans for it.
About the Author
Pick up your Free Recovery Rolodex, Over 88 pages of self help and recovery tips, resources and links to enhance your life in addiction recovery.The author, Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading residential treatment center. He teaches healthy life styles and life skills. Join our growing community. Tell your story! Visit: http://www.AddictionRecoveryBasics.com/
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