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Relapse Prevention: Coping Skills and Warning Signs

Woman learning coping skills for relapse prevention

Preparing to leave an inpatient treatment program can seem intimidating, especially if you have undergone intensive treatment for many months. It’s normal to worry about relapse. No one wants to reach the point of deciding to get free from addiction only to begin having thoughts of failure once the immediate treatment team is left behind. Teaching relapse prevention coping skills are one of the essential parts of a comprehensive treatment plan. Learning how to avoid relapse by recognizing warning signs and utilizing all available coping skills will help keep you on the road to a total clean and sober recovery.

Do you need to know more about relapse prevention therapy? Call us today at (877) 881-2689.

Stages of Relapse

Rarely do individuals travel the distance from normal recovery mode to drug and alcohol use overnight. It is a journey that can begin at any time after treatment and unfolds in stages. The more acute self-awareness is, the easier it is to spot potential problems. Below are three universally accepted stages that indicate levels of relapse:

Emotional Relapse

The stage of emotional relapse is not one of actively using or even considering use. In fact, denial is usually strong at this point, and it is a period of emotional setup. Emotional relapse is marked by:

  • Isolation
  • Negative views of others
  • Sporadic meeting attendance or missing them altogether
  • Not staying involved while in meetings
  • Being emotionally reclusive
  • Reduced personal hygiene care and sleep difficulties

Mental Health

The mental health stage of the relapse process involves an increasing lack of resistance to full relapse. It can vary from basic cravings to the planning stages of drug or alcohol use. There are more times of people placing themselves in harm’s way, looking for an opportunity to use. Without recognizing these warnings, it is merely a matter of time before a complete relapse occurs. A few early warning signs of relapse include:

  • Increasing focus and strength of cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Viewing past drug and alcohol use in any positive, glamorized light
  • Thinking about the ability to manage drug or alcohol use
  • Thinking of or making contact with those associated with past use
  • Placing yourself in dangerous positions and circumstances that can lead to use
  • Bargaining
  • Lying about activities and feelings
  • Complete planning of relapse or expressing inevitability

Physical

A complete physical relapse is when drug or alcohol use begins and becomes an uncontrolled activity after a period of recovery. A small lapse or one-time use can be turned around in some cases, but it is imperative to recognize the warning signs of mental relapse before it goes too far. The actual trigger for an addicted individual to use again varies, but stress and opportunity are the prime culprits. The need to stop, slow down, and see what is going on is a vital part of remaining faithful to proper self-care. The use of coping skills is the best defense in relapse prevention.

Relapse Prevention Coping Skills

Observing and taking the warning signs seriously is the first step in how to avoid a relapse. You need to incorporate as many coping skills as possible that work for you and the stage of relapse you find yourself facing. Below are a few helpful coping skills that can reduce the danger level and keep you from falling into complete relapse.

Stress Control and Relapse Prevention Plan

Thoughts of self-medicating begin to take on a realistic value if stress levels are allowed to rise unchecked. Those who suffer anxiety issues will struggle with stress the most. Learn to recognize the overtaxing of your system in crisis situations, such as the death of a loved one or a job loss. Avoid self-defeating behavior and learn to deal with stress in a healthy way during the early warning signs of a possible relapse so you can experience clean and sober living. You can help reduce stress naturally by:

  • Exercising or doing a physical activity that is enjoyable
  • Watching a positive movie
  • Getting involved in volunteer work
  • Contacting a loved one or sobriety peer member
  • Avoiding negative thinking

Avoiding high-risk contacts and behaviors is also crucial. It’s important to:

  • Avoid people from the past you used to get high or drunk with
  • Stay away from locations at which you used drugs or alcohol
  • Avoid parties and gatherings with drug and alcohol use
  • Never feel you are strong enough to abstain from drugs and alcohol
  • Keep in mind that using drugs or alcohol one time is not harmless and can cause complete relapse

Relapse Prevention Strategies

When managing cravings by:

  • Knowing that they are a regular part of recovery and that they will pass
  • Finding distractions such as reading a book or taking a walk
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regularly
  • Listing the negatives of drug or alcohol addiction and why you will not go there again
  • Calling trusted, nonjudgmental individuals you can discuss your cravings with

Critical Effectiveness of a Supportive Environment

Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is one of the most challenging battles an individual will ever wage. It is one of the most important when it comes to health and well-being. The more supportive the environment, self-help groups and programs are, the better the results are for anyone attempting to break free from the grip of serious addiction. A few of the critical benefits of supportive teams, families, and sobriety peers are:

  • Increased and honest communication
  • A feeling of the client getting trustworthy advice
  • Supportive people who will warn when they see danger signs the recovering addict misses
  • Shared celebrations at all achievements
  • Support that lacks judgmental attitudes and social stigma
  • Ways to replenish strength when the recovering addict feels weak

Get the Relapse Help You Need You Need From Apex Recovery

Although it may sound counterintuitive, relapse can often be a large part of the complete recovery process. Starting over after a serious relapse is done with gained knowledge about your weaknesses and strengths. It is a time to appreciate your humanity and realize that well-known celebrities have had to undergo additional treatment for relapse. No one is ever immune to moments of weakness.

At Apex Recovery, we deal with substance abuse disorders by understanding underlying issues and co-occurring disorders so we can treat you with cognitive-behavioral therapy for a life of staying clean and sober. Seeing the relapse process battle through is done by living life to the fullest each day and enjoying the moments of sobriety. Falling can happen, but the real winners are the individuals who can stand back up and shake off the dust with a smile. Through relapse prevention therapy, you will learn how to live a healthy and sober life begins with deciding never to give up.

Don’t let relapse defeat you. Contact Apex Recovery today at (877) 881-2689¬†and get your recovery on track for success.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689