Preventing relapse may be the most critical goal in treatment. All the efforts to help a person learn to cope with their substance use disorder are not helpful if they have no preparation for going back to their daily life and staying sober after treatment. Treatment providers must teach these relapse prevention skills to give clients the best chance at long-term recovery.
The statistics may look dismal, and people may say that everyone relapses sooner or later. However, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) points out, a substance use disorder follows a chronic course like heart disease or asthma. People may be treated, but if they stop following their plan of care, they may get sick again.
What is Relapse Prevention?
Relapse prevention teaches skills that people can use in their daily lives outside of treatment to prevent them from relapsing. These skills can go into use whenever a person feels like they might want to use drugs or alcohol.
Relapse prevention becomes the bridge that extends from residential to outpatient care. Relapse prevention may involve setting the person up with appropriate outpatient therapy or stepping down to the next appropriate level of care. It can also guide people to a variety of recovery support groups in the community.
How Do We Teach Relapse Prevention?
Teaching relapse prevention can involve everything from goal-setting to daily chores. Any tool that helps a person with a substance use disorder function in early recovery is a relapse prevention tool.
It is crucial for those diagnosed with a substance use disorder to remain in treatment and follow their treatment plan post discharge. People with any chronic illness who stop seeing their doctor and taking their medications will probably start to feel worse again. Similarly, people with a substance use disorder, must follow their treatment plan because if not, it could lead to a relapse.
Besides general life skills, four basic categories of skills taught in relapse prevention include:
People need tools for restructuring their thinking and learning to think like a person in recovery.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and similar strategies teach people to change their thinking, avoid irrational or negative thoughts, and use new, positive thoughts to guide them to better behavioral choices.
People who have left residential treatment do not have all the skills they need to go back to their daily lives with no support.
Some people, especially those with a serious dual diagnosis, might enter a step-down program like an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Others might attend scheduled one-on-one therapy or group therapy sessions. After official treatment has ended, people should seek support from a recovery support group like 12-Step groups, SMART Recovery, or a dual diagnosis support group.
People with a substance use disorder may have strained some relationships.
However, leaving treatment without any stable, supportive relationships to lean on can make a person more likely to relapse. The relationships can be family, friends, or other loved ones, but they must fully support the person’s success in recovery.
For many people, boredom acts as a trigger for relapse. Preventing boredom and giving people meaning and purpose in life gives them reasons to avoid relapse. Employment can provide people with a significant boost in self-esteem and a sense of self-worth for those who can work. For many, volunteering can also give a sense of feeling valued and useful.
During or after residential treatment, people can learn many new skills to avoid boredom, stay busy, and feel better physically. These may include:
How Does Everlast Address Relapse Prevention?
Everlast Recovery Centers begins teaching relapse prevention from the moment a person enters residential treatment with us. We use various techniques and therapy sessions to help guide people toward a successful life in recovery.
We also welcome alumni back if they relapse and need treatment again. A Substance use disorder, like a chronic disease, sometimes requires additional treatment. If you need us, Everlast will always help you without judgment or lectures. We understand that no one feels good about relapsing, and we will treat you with the care and respect you deserve.
Everlast also offers cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in therapy sessions throughout the week, including specific CBT-based therapies for dual diagnoses. In these sessions, people learn to process their thoughts without falling into illogical traps, helping them avoid the faulty thinking that may have contributed to their substance use disorder.
We also offer regular life skills groups that cover many of the skills a client needs to interact with the world on a daily basis. Clients also learn life skills throughout the day as they engage in daily chores and learn basic housekeeping and other tools that they will need for life after treatment.
Everlast offers guidance into 12-Step programs as a relapse prevention tool after treatment. However, we encourage any type of recovery support group that will promote recovery and healthy living. 12-Step programs may not feel suitable for each client, but we can direct them toward other recovery support options.
Our responsibility at Everlast Recovery Centers is to send each person out into the world as prepared as they can be to face the challenges ahead. Recovery requires strength and hard work, and people deserve all the tools we can give them to help along their journey.