Revisiting Your Relapse Prevention Plan

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 04/9/2019
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By the time you leave inpatient drug and alcohol treatment, you’ve discussed how to avoid relapse and most likely created your own, personalized relapse prevention plan. This plan details specific things you can do to stay clean, things you have to avoid to protect your recovery, and identifies who is on your support team. It may discuss relapse triggers and warning signs, as well as high risk people, places, and things you should avoid.

But too many people never pick up their relapse prevention plan after they leave treatment. And too many people fall back into old ways and behaviors, and are using drugs and alcohol again before even giving recovery a chance.

Instead, utilize what you’ve created, and keep it with you, remembering it’s always a work in progress, and should grow with you as you progress through recovery.

Discovering New Triggers

When you’re in treatment, it’s easy to guess what your stressors are going to be: finances, your ex-girlfriend, the job you hate. But once you’re out of rehab and back in the real world, you may be surprised at the amount of things that make you think of using that you wouldn’t have guessed.

Maybe going out to eat acts as a trigger because you always drank beer with supper. Perhaps driving to the grocery store takes you by your dealer’s house, something you’ve never paid attention to before now. Regardless of the situation, identifying and listing your new found stressors and relapse triggers is essential to protecting your recovery.

Different Ways to Manage Stress

Perhaps when you were in treatment, you thought your primary stress management technique would be to talk to your brother, who has always been your rock. But now that you’re home, you and your bother clash whenever you’re in the same room. Instead of talking to him to reduce stress, you’ve taken up running and going to the gym. If that’s so, then put it in your relapse prevention plan.

Any new way you found that helps you deal with stress and frustration should be documented, in case you need to come back to your relapse prevention plan sometime in the future.

If you’re struggling with stress management, consider adding some of these techniques to your relapse prevention plan.

  • Exercise
  • Proper diet and nutrition
  • Meditation
  • Positive affirmations
  • Yoga
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Starting new hobbies
  • Massage
  • Positive socialization

Eliminate Stressors

Everyone has stress in their life, but when it comes to early recovery, you want to try and eliminate as many as possible. Identifying stressors should always be part of your relapse prevention plan, and if you find ones that you can eliminate, do it.

If you hate your job, find a new one. If you have a friend who’s constantly dragging you down, it’s time to cut ties. If there’s a particular place that you pass that makes it hard to keep driving, start taking a different way home.