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Addiction Relapse Prevention and Preparation Tools

Addiction relapse prevention is a key harm reduction practice that limits relapses in recovery by anticipating potentially triggering scenarios that may provoke the recurrence of past addictive behavior. During a relapse prevention course, guests learn coping skills that help them work through triggering situations. Relapse triggers can include an individual’s shift in moods, such as a heightened level of anxiety and stress. Relapses also occur when an individual is reintroduced to environmental factors that they once associated with their substance abuse.

A huge part of substance use disorder (SUD) prevention is being prepared. Individuals who are working on their recovery require the expertise provided by a fully functional mental health system. Most importantly, successful addiction relapse prevention demands training medical providers and preparing patients to access help if and when they need it.

SMI Advisor

SAMHSA’s SMI Adviser is an online training resource to increase the knowledge and skills of healthcare providers to expand the accessibility to medical care for individuals with— as the site defines— serious mental illnesses (SMI). In addition, SMI Adviser aims to transform the quality of care by providing awareness and education for both the providers and the individuals receiving treatment.

Benefits of SMI Advisor for Mental Health and Addiction treatment:

  • Improves clinical care through education, evidence, and consultations
  • Provides answers and clarifications for evidence-based practices and treatments
  • Assists in the creation of best practice care plans (long-term and day-to-day care)
  • Includes all parties in the conversation about treatment methods and modes of care
  • Directs each user to the appropriate resources and support
  • Circulates clinical information with multi-level input from experts, peers, families, and the individuals receiving care  

Moreover, knowing that a mental health disorder may worsen at a moment’s notice, it’s important for people living with a substance use disorder to prepare for unforeseen triggers. Individuals with SUD experience similar risks as those who live with a chronic illness. Likewise, these individuals benefit from a preemptive plan with equal levels of precaution to a physical health crisis plan. 

My Mental Health Crisis Plan

SMI Adviser’s person-centered crisis care planner app, My Mental Health Crisis Plan, offers empowerment to individuals living with an SMI or SUD through its person-first services. Unlike predetermined addiction treatment programs, the app enables individuals to customize their ideal plan. By doing so, individuals define their treatment preferences for future care should a mental health crisis or relapse occur. Certainly, this is a wonderful form of preparation that allows the individual an opportunity to manage their care with an unimpaired mindset. In fact, app users choose their preferred emergency treatments, the ideal team of clinicians, beneficial medications, and the facilities they favor for medical care. 

My Mental Health Crisis Plan preference categories include:

  • Emergency treatment methods
  • Team of medical professionals
  • Medications
  • Treatment facility
  • Emergency contact list

In addition to My Mental Health Crisis Plan preference categories, app users can designate a healthcare agent (or power of attorney) to make healthcare decisions on their behalf provided that they are experiencing a mental health crisis.

The preference categories in the My Mental Health Crisis Plan app eases the process of preparing for a potential crisis. The app does this through step-by-step instructions on how to create a personalized psychiatric advance directive (PAD). As PAD laws vary from state to state, the app includes state-specific statutes to ensure the legal document’s legitimacy. 

How Psychiatric Advance Directives Benefit Addiction Relapse Prevention and Preparation

As defined by SAMHSA, a psychiatric or mental health advance directive (PAD) “is a legal tool that allows a person with mental illness to state their preferences for treatment in advance of a crisis”. Similar to that of a living will or a DNR, PAD’s protect a person’s independence and ability to self-determine care. Psychiatric advance directives are legal documents establishing a preemptive medical plan for healthcare providers in the event of a crisis. In this case, individuals with a PAD for a potential addiction relapse can decide their ideal treatment plan. With this, they decide the facility, program, and treatment methods as an emergency strategy. 

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