Relapse is a looming presence for a client with addictions. It poses a threat whether a person is in early recovery or has been sober for a number of years. People who detox on their own without medical supervision often relapse due to extreme psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms.
Relapse prevention is a crucial part of addiction treatment because abstinence causes a significant void. After detox, relapse prevention counseling is targeted at helping clients identify stressors and triggers and develop coping mechanisms to avoid them altogether or handle them in a healthier manner. Addiction recovery includes helping clients improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.
Research shows developing coping skills early in the treatment process significantly reduces the risk of relapse. An important facet of counseling is teaching clients about the emotional, mental and physical stages of relapse. Education about the five basic rules of recovery helps clients focus on matters of importance: 1) Create a new life where it is easier to not use); 2) Be completely honest; 3) Ask for help; 4) Practice self-care and 5) Don’t bend the rules.
Relapse prevention helps clients identify and avoid external triggers that cause cravings for drugs or alcohol. Examples of external triggers include hanging out with drinking buddies or patronizing a favorite watering hole. During counseling, internal triggers are also identified, such as depression, anxiety, boredom or stress. Clients learn how to change unhealthy thinking and behavioral patterns and develop strategies to manage cravings without reverting to using substances as a crutch.
Clients learn what the voice of addiction sounds like by hearing it in others. Group activities make them realize they are not alone in this struggle. They are provided with a toolbox of skills to draw upon in times of stress. The primary focus is on activities that promote a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle, such as mindfulness, yoga, fitness, cognitive behavioral techniques, equine therapy, expressive therapies and self-care skills.
A relapse prevention counselor helps clients make the transition to a new support system and move away from negative past influences. The ultimate goal is to help individuals make better choices, avoid high-risk situations and plan ahead so they can avoid relapsing when cravings occur. Real-life skills are practiced that support independence, resiliency and a healthy lifestyle that works to combat even chronic relapse. Benefits include: