Getting sober is certainly a challenge of body and mind. After detox, the person in recovery starts a long journey. This journey is an exhilarating and ultimately rewarding process. The road to sobriety is full of rewards and revelations. However, sobriety isn’t always a ‘walk in the park’, things such as tragedy, loss, and health issues can still occur. Since emotions like sadness, fear, and anger are inevitable, it is important to have a plan for staying sober through anything. That is the basis of a Relapse Prevention Plan. Preventing a relapse involves learning about what triggers you to want to drink or use. These triggers can be emotions, places, people, or things like certain times of the year. It is important to be able to identify the feelings that can lead to relapse.
Identifying Your Warning Signs
The most complete book about Relapse Prevention is called Staying Sober: A Guide to Relapse Prevention by Terrence Gorski. Gorski wrote this book by surveying and interviewing hundreds of chronic relapsers; people who could get sober but couldn’t stay sober for any extended time. In his book Gorski creates a list of the most common triggers in addicts and alcoholics that lead to relapse. For example, depression was a strong indicator for possible relapse. Some warning signs of someone suffering depression is loss of sleep, no appetite, and isolation. Everyone has different triggers for relapse. For some people slipping into cross-addictive behaviors could be a warning sign. Cross-addiction could be binge watching T.V, over eating, or compulsive shopping. Many people can relapse following a financial setback, like getting laid off or falling behind on the mortgage. Identify your warning signs, so that when they happen you can quickly be aware of their presence.
Creating Your Relapse Prevention Plan
Now that you have identified your warning signs, it is important to create a plan of response. One way of dealing with triggers is journaling about them. Writing down how you are feeling and why you are feeling a certain way can help you come to terms with the emotions and lessen their intensity. Another helpful way to respond to relapse inducing events is to talk with someone, in recovery if possible, and share your inner thoughts. People can often give us a new perspective on something in our lives that we can’t see ourselves. Another healthy idea is to identify activities that can generate positive feelings for you and help prevent a negative mindset. This can be almost anything that you enjoy doing, and is especially beneficial if it improves your mind or body. Exercising or painting are examples of things that can counteract depression or anxiety. Addicts or alcoholics with clinical depression or anxiety may benefit from seeing a professional therapist or being on medication.
Preventing relapse is about identifying the warning signs that may lead to your relapse, and finding activities and outlets that help safeguard your sobriety.