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Setting Up Barriers for Relapse Prevention

At all stages of recovery from a substance use disorder, putting barriers between yourself and relapse is essential to relapse prevention. There are many factors outside of your control that you will come into contact with on a daily basis, so a solid, individualized relapse prevention plan is essential to your success in recovery.

Setting up barriers between yourself and relapse is something that you have to make a conscious effort toward. There are a few simple, but highly effective, blockades that you can implement for successful relapse prevention.

Know your triggers.

Or get to know them. You may already be familiar with some of your triggers— certain people or places, for example— but others might be completely unbeknownst to you. If a craving catches you by surprise, there is probably an unidentified or missed trigger to be found. Ask yourself what may have brought on the craving. Did you do something different today? Did you see or hear something that brought back an old memory?

Discussing identified or suspected triggers with your therapist or counselor may give you more clarity, as well as help you to manage any cravings-associated anxiety you may have.

Knowing your triggers is an excellent barrier to place between yourself and relapse because recognizing and mitigating a trigger or stressor when it appears can prevent a lapse in judgment.

Go to meetings. 

You were likely told in treatment that you should attend meetings, and if you are active in a recovery program, you are probably continually told so now. Meetings are highly recommended because topics covered and people met can help you to work through the unique circumstances of recovery from substance abuse. The stories shared in 12-step meetings (AA, CA, NA) are good sources of inspiration and can serve as good reminders of your sobriety.

You may meet a new like-minded friend, mentor, or sponsor/ee who understands what you are experiencing and who can support you on your recovery journey. Studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) have found that men experience relapse more frequently than do women because women are more likely to seek help.

Build and maintain your sober support network.

Having a sober support network that you can rely on is essential in recovery, no matter early or long-term. You can’t recover on your own. You need people whom you trust and whom you are comfortable reaching out to for help.

Why do I need a relapse prevention plan?

You don’t need a relapse prevention plan… if you don’t mind relapsing. Not having a plan in place can make you more likely to relapse if you are unprepared for a craving.

If you have already completed a substance use treatment program, your therapist may have worked with you to develop a relapse prevention plan. If not, speak to your current counselor or therapist about it.

What if I experience a craving in spite of my barriers?

It’s completely normal to experience cravings in recovery, especially during early recovery, so it’s important to not panic. The craving will pass, but be proactive— don’t wait for it to go away on its own. When you feel a craving coming on, distract yourself by reaching out to your sponsor, going for a walk, reading, or even eating something healthy. Do something that engages your mind and body, and you won’t have the physical or mental capacity to focus on the craving.

Our therapists are trained in a variety of holistic therapy methods and can help you design an effective relapse prevention plan tailored to meet your unique needs. Please reach out to us today at (877)-RECOVER to learn more about our detox and residential inpatient treatment programs.

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