The Need for Relapse Prevention
Relapse rates are not entirely certain, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse places them at anywhere from 40% to 60%. Some people relapse early in recovery, while others may stay sober as long as twenty years or more before relapsing. However, addiction remains very treatable, and relapse can be avoided by taking the right precautions. Some relapse prevention measures are strictly preventative, while others are more proactive. All relapse prevention techniques are taught in addiction treatment, so those who make use of them will stand a much greater chance at maintaining their sobriety.
Identifying and Avoiding Triggers
One of the first measures that must be taken is the identification of triggers. These are highly personal, and will vary from one addict to another. Common triggers may involve socializing with people who still use, or visiting establishments such as bars. Some triggers are more internal, such as anger or sheer boredom. By knowing which triggers affect you most, you can devise plans to avoid them.
The easiest triggers to avoid are people and institutions that remind you of drinking and drug abuse. However, avoiding negative emotions and boredom may require more effort. Always have a plan to overcome these triggers as they arise. Whether you maintain a list of healthy activities to take your mind off the trigger or simply keep a list of phone numbers for people you trust to help you, simply know that the cravings will pass if you let them. You just have to keep yourself engaged long enough to give them a chance.
Being Proactive in Your Recovery
Do not just wait around for triggers to pop up. The best relapse prevention methods are the ones you can practice every day. Making daily calls to a sponsor, or attending meetings on a daily basis are among the more common prevention methods. Depending on your faith, you may find daily prayer and meditation more beneficial. Taking on service commitments can also help, whether at an AA meeting or simply a charitable organization such as a dog shelter. Working in the service of others imbues your recovery with a sense of purpose that you will not want to lose.
Recreational activities help as well, so try doing something you love on a regular basis. When you feel the urge to use, you can simply turn to your chosen hobby until the craving passes. The point is that proactive measures should not just occupy your time, but should also make your recovery mean something. No matter how you choose to formulate your relapse prevention plan, ensure it involves activities and commitments in which you actually want to participate. This will not only make it easier to formulate your plan, but will help you stick to it well enough that you may never have to worry about cravings in the first place.