Relapse Prevention Best Practices

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If the first step toward overcoming addiction is to seek treatment, the last step is to prevent a relapse. You may think that you have the handle on your addiction while you are attending an inpatient rehab Florida program but once you go home you may find that relapse prevention is quite difficult. You may have to contend with boredom, stress, possible relationship issues, money problems, and so on. In fact, almost 85% of people relapse within one year following their treatment. To avoid this from happening to you, you may want to acquire relapse prevention skills and adopt some of the best practices. Luckily, that is exactly what this article is going to be all about.

Relapse prevention 101

The best way to prevent a relapse is to understand what causes it and acquire the necessary skills to help you prevent it. That said, if you want to take full control of your life, you will need to put in some time and effort. However, there is also a chance that you may find that you simply cannot contend with your triggers and that you require additional help. If that happens to be the case, an intensive outpatient program Florida can be your best solution. With outpatient treatment, you will be able to live in your own home while having all the benefits of professional treatment and counseling.

person undergoing a relapse prevention class
Outpatient programs can help you prevent relapses.

However, outpatient treatment programs can be quite expensive. It is usually much better if you can “train” yourself to prevent any relapses on your own. The best way to do that is to first understand what causes relapses in the first place.

What causes a relapse?

Drug relapse is quite similar to other chronic diseases. In other words, a relapse usually occurs when the individual stops with their treatment plan. Furthermore, similar to how chronic diseases have flare-up periods, drug relapse has its own triggers that can happen at any point.

While you are undergoing treatment in a drug rehab Florida center, you will have the benefit of being monitored by a professional medical staff. They will be able to figure out your triggers and find a way to prevent them from influencing your recovery. However, when you are in your home on your own, relapse prevention is all up to you.

There are many different reasons why a person might succumb to drug relapse. They are grouped into two distinct categories:

  • Environmental triggers
  • Emotional/Mental triggers

Of course, as every person is unique, there are numerous other triggers that can contribute to a relapse. What you need to do is carefully analyze all the potential triggers, see which apply to you the most, and find a way to minimize their influence. Now, let’s look at a quick breakdown of each trigger type.

Environmental triggers

Environmental triggers involve memories of your time using drugs or alcohol. For example, you might find that simply looking at a place where you used to drink alcohol or use drugs is a very potent relapse trigger. You can also see a person that you associate with drug use, or hear a song that reminds you of your time using drugs or drinking alcohol.  Or you might simply look at a particular object or experience a stressful situation that you, again, associated with drugs and alcohol use.

a jar of marijuana
Some objects can trigger a relapse.

The reason why addiction treatment at a, for example, heroin rehab Florida center is so effective is that it removes many of those triggers. All of the objects that you may associate with drug use will be removed, you will not have to worry about any stressful situations, and you will be surrounded by people who are committed to recovery. Therefore, the easiest thing you can do to start with is to simply avoid getting in contact with any known environmental triggers.

Emotional/Mental triggers

Stress is one of the most prominent causes of drug and alcohol relapse. However, having an anxiety disorder can lead to relapse as well, as can depression. In fact, most of the people who have addiction issues also suffer from one or two mental health issues as well.

Aside from mental health issues, there are other emotional triggers that may lead to relapse. Bad relationships are a perfect example. Relationships produce both positive and negative emotions, both of which can lead to relapse. If you are in a bad relationship, there are two ways of solving the situation. You can either attend couples rehab in Florida or dissolve the relationship. If you do nothing, however, chances are that the bad relationship will produce so many emotional relapse triggers that you will have an extremely hard time keeping up with your sobriety.

Knowing about the relapse triggers is just one part of the battle, however. To give yourself the best fighting chance, so to speak, you will also need to develop relapse prevention skills.

Necessary skills for relapse prevention

Relapse prevention skills are extremely important when it comes to leading a happy life after your treatment. That said, you need to understand that these skills may not come naturally to you. While you may learn some of them during your stay at one of the alcohol rehab Florida centers, for example, they will require diligent practice to master. The more skills you learn and master, the easier it will be to prevent a relapse.

Here are some of the key skills you may want to learn:

  • Grounding techniques
  • Mindfulness
  • Meditation
  • Self-care
  • Deep breathing
person meditating for relapse prevention
Meditation is one of the best ways to keep your relapse triggers at bay.

These skills will help you cope with boredom, anger, stress, money issues, and relationship problems. Furthermore, they may help you avoid certain people or places, as well as certain sights and smells. In other words, they help keep pretty much all of the relapse triggers in check. Now, let’s take a look at how each of these skills can help you.

Grounding techniques

Grounding techniques are all about minimizing stress and anxiety. One of the best techniques that you can try is a “5-4-3-2-1” technique. Here’s how it works:

First, you take a few deep breaths. Then you try to acknowledge five things you see around you. After that, you acknowledge four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. What this technique does is allow you to focus on your senses and gain greater self-awareness. This has a profound effect in allowing you to overcome your negative thoughts, accomplish daily tasks, and feel more in control.

Mindfulness and meditation

The key concept of mindfulness and meditation is self-awareness. To start practicing mindfulness, all you need to do is try and notice what you are doing without making any judgments. If you have trouble doing this, you may want to try writing down your daily activities and associated feelings. Once you gain greater self-awareness, you can start practicing meditation.

The whole idea of mindfulness and meditation is for you to get the ability to roll with your craving instead of fighting them. Cravings are going to be a part of your life, no matter what you do, after all. However, you will be able to minimize their influence by practicing mindfulness meditation.

Self-care

Most people that undergo an addiction treatment program suffer from fatigue and insomnia when they get back to their regular lives. This may lead to self-medication and relapse. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine research on insomnia, self-medication, and relapse, the majority of patients that enter or leave treatment report insomnia symptoms.

person holding an apple and a donut
A balanced diet is extremely important for relapse prevention.

To minimize the effects that fatigue and insomnia might have, you may want to learn how to care for yourself. Try to create a balanced lifestyle by incorporating physical exercise and a balanced diet. More often than not, this is all that you may need to do to reduce the risk of relapse.

Deep breathing

Many people do not realize how the simple act of breathing can change your life for the better. Deep breathing, in particular, has a profound effect on your brain chemistry, emotions, and overall mood. This is due to the fact that deep breathing releases certain neurotransmitters that encourage your body to release “feel-good” chemicals.

The best part of deep breathing is that you can practically reap all the benefits from the get-go. That said, there are certain techniques, such as the 4×4 technique that can maximize the effectiveness of deep breathing. All you need to do is take a deep breath through your nose, hold it, and release it for four seconds. Lastly, this is a technique that you can practice virtually everywhere, without anyone noticing that you are trying to keep your relapse triggers in check.

Learning all the relapse prevention skills is an excellent way to start managing your triggers. However, what is even more important is that you incorporate those skills into habits, or practices.

Relapse prevention best practices

Turning a skill into practice requires time and dedication. There will be challenges, of course, and you may stumble here and there. What is important is that you “keep at it”, no matter what. With that in mind, here are the best practices that you may want to adopt:

  • Try to stay busy
  • Reach out to a support group
  • Focus on self-care
  • Always stay aware of your triggers

Sticking to your practices can be quite hard at times. It may happen that, despite all the effort, you still relapse into your old habits. And that is perfectly normal. You just need to get up and do better next time. If you do so, you will be living a substance-free life before you know it!

person looking at a wristwatch
As far as relapse is concerned, free time may be your worst “enemy”.

Staying busy

Since boredom is one of the most prominent relapse triggers, you may want to do everything in your power to stay busy at all times. If you have ample free time, try to find activities to occupy that time. Having a steady job is an excellent way of keeping yourself busy, as is going to school. Other methods involve reading books, taking up a hobby, or challenging yourself in some way.

Reaching out

Whenever you feel like you are losing the relapse battle, reach out to a family member or a friend. Their help can be invaluable in keeping your relapse triggers in check. In fact, having a good support system is oftentimes the most important thing when it comes to living a sober life. You should never feel ashamed for asking for help, as your friends and family members will understand what you are going through.

Focusing on self-care

Self-care is all about doing the things that make you feel good. What you want to do is focus on all the things that make your life enjoyable. If you feel like there are no such things, you may need to experiment. Try signing up for an online class, for example, or consider “obscure” activities such as rock climbing, skating, or similar. You never know what might you feel good about if you don’t experiment.

Staying aware of your triggers

Lastly, you need to always be aware of what your relapse triggers might be. Most people find that being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT) makes them experience cravings. However, you might feel the urge to relapse under many other circumstances. What you need to do is always keep a watchful eye on what is going on around you and how it might be affecting you.

Also, don’t forget that there is always additional help available should you need it. You can always talk to medical professionals for some of the best addiction solutions Florida has to offer. You can always get in touch with Bright Futures Treatment Center and we will do everything in our power to help you overcome your relapse triggers. Always remember, you are not alone!

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