Relapse Prevention Is a Plan to Stay Recovered after Treatment

  • Addiction is a chronic disease. You need a long-term plan to stay sober.
  • Relapse Prevention is a plan that identifies the activities and the areas you need to focus on to stay recovered.
  • People who struggle with substance use disorder should treat their disorder like other chronic diseases. If you stop treating it, you will relapse.
  • A trusted treatment center will give you a plan at discharge to prevent relapse.

Continuing Treatment with a Relapse Prevention Plan

A recovery plan is a relapse prevention plan. Relapse prevention helps you stay sober after leaving a treatment center for alcoholism and drug addiction.

Quality addiction treatment is the foundation for long term recovery and helps prevent a relapse.

Most often, relapse will happen after treatment, and when the person with substance use disorders stops his or her treatment program.

What Is Relapse?

Substance and alcohol abuse addiction is a chronic disease. Relapsing into drug or alcohol abuse can occur even after long periods of abstinence. Relapse occurs when someone has partially recovered and stopped using substances — usually from a detox or 30-day treatment center — but then begins using again.

Relapse means worsening after seeing improvements. In the case of an addict or alcoholic, it means they use again after getting treatment.

Relapses can happen almost immediately after treatment or can happen after a few months or even years. Because of the chronic nature of addiction, it will return if it is not treated.

Why Do Addicts Relapse After Swearing to Stop?

Addicts and alcoholics relapse because they cannot stay stopped. That might seem obvious at first, but when you understand an addict’s mental makeup, it seems hopeless for someone with an addiction to stay stopped.

If you or a loved one are a true addict or alcoholic, you are going to use or drink again if you do not treat your alcoholism. Alcoholism and addiction have been deemed as a chronic disease and if it is not constantly treated then it can lead to relapse.

Statistically, other chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension have similar rates of relapse to addiction. Like these other chronic illnesses, drug use can require repeated treatments before abstinence is achieved and recovery is sustained.

What Does Alcoholics Anonymous Say About Relapse? 

If you look at the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous it will tell you that people who suffer from alcoholism have a different mind and body than normal drinkers. 

Dr. William Silkworth wrote an opinion in Alcoholics Anonymous that states people who are addicted have an actual physical craving for liquor. He calls it a manifestation of an allergy. 

Here’s an analogy. 

If someone is allergic to a bee sting, they will avoid bees. However, if a bee stings them, they will automatically swell up and in extreme cases die. 

Will power has nothing to do with the body’s reaction to the bee sting.

Silkworth contended that alcoholics act in much of the same way. However, when an alcoholic consumes liquor, their body reacts in a way where it demands more of the liquor or substance. 

Will power is nonexistent. 

The addict goes on a spree and cannot control the amount he or she takes.

What’s the Solution?

The solution then should be that the alcoholic or addict just stops drinking and using. If you are a family member of an addict reading this, you’ve probably asked yourself several times, “Why won’t they just stop.”

If you are an alcoholic, you have probably asked yourself the same question. 

Many in the Alcoholics Anonymous community will tell you that Silkworth’s opinion has been defended and challenged in the scientific community. Regardless, his hypothesis helps explain why addicts and alcoholics have no willpower when it comes to substances and alcohol. 

Even so, if you were to ask an alcoholic or addict why they chose to drink or use again, they most likely would not be able to tell you why they started again.

“These observations would be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink, thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body.”

Alcoholics Anonymous

What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

  • It’s a plan you must continuously enact to stay on top of your treatment for the chronic problem of addiction.
  • It identifies the activities you should do and the professional services you should use consistently.
  • You should go over your discharge plan with your treatment center representative before you leave treatment.

If you are a chronic relapser, then you know that you cannot stay stopped. Experience has shown you this. The book states that we alcoholics and addicts cannot differentiate the true from the false and that our alcoholic life seems normal. 

The thing we see as a treatment center time and time again is that people think when leaving treatment the problem is solved. 

This is a chronic disease that comes back if it is not treated so it takes some work and staying on top of your mental health to not relapse. 

When you leave treatment, your treatment center should give you a discharge plan. This is a plan you must continuously enact to stay on top of to not relapse. 

Relapse Plans Differ Based on Your Needs

A discharge plan breaks down what someone needs to do to keep themselves from relapsing. 

It can range in specifics from addressing character flaws or fears of engaging in dialogue with other people or addressing shame associated with the family. The plan will tell you what professionals you need to see. For example, talking to a private substance abuse counselor might be part of your plan.

If the discharge plan — or relapse prevention plan — is not followed, then that means your mental health will suffer. Once that happens, it’s going to be difficult to stay stopped.

A relapse prevention plan involves preparing for the possibility of a relapse and identifying ways to avoid one.

A Relapse Prevention Plan

A relapse prevention plan involves preparing for the possibility of a relapse and identifying ways to avoid one. A successful plan entails networking with every available resource. This may include attendance at individual and group therapy sessions, regular contact with sponsors, attendance at 12 Step programs such as AA, family assistance and support, or any measure that can be taken to help keep recovery on track. Most relapse prevention plans involve addressing the following areas:

This may entail changing residence, job, neighborhood, the circle of friends and acquaintances, or addressing any environmental factor that may lead to a relapse.

If an old method did not work, find another one.

These were presented as a means for addressing and replacing the old behaviors that contributed to addiction.

Recovery is difficult alone. Accessing individuals and processes who understand the problems of trying to live sober will help prevent a relapse. To learn more about relapse prevention contact Burning Tree today!

Get a Relapse Prevention Plan

At Burning Tree Programs, We not only give you the best in class treatment options, but we make sure you have the tools and plan needed to enact a relapse prevention plan when you leave our treatment facility.

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