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Relapse Prevention Techniques

Because newly recovering addicts can often be especially vulnerable to relapse, it is extremely important that they learn about a wide range of effective relapse prevention techniques. While becoming sober is the first important step of any quality drug rehab program, it is only the beginning of the substance abuse recovery process. When a person who has struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction, the brain sometimes needs a substantial amount of time to recover and rebuild connections that have been lost due to addiction; during this period of time, the former addict may experience extremely intense drug cravings. Having effective relapse prevention techniques available could be one of the most important relapse prevention aids that a person in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction can have.

Listed below is a list of highly effective Relapse Prevention Techniques;

Immediately tell someone that you are having urges to use-Reaching out to call a friend, a former drug rehab program counselor, or another person that is also recovering from substance abuse, is one of the most effective relapse prevention techniques that an individual in recovery can utilize. The magic of sharing in a supportive environment cannot be overstated, as the minute a former addict begins to talk about what they are thinking and feeling, their urges will immediately begin to dissipate.

Find a relapse prevention support group-One of the most commonly used relapse prevention techniques is to seek out quality addiction recovery support. Relapse prevention support groups can be effective in helping a former addict to learn better ways to handle some of the everyday challenges that are involved with maintaining long term sobriety; additionally, they can help a person who is in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction to begin to apply many of the healthy alternative behaviors that they have previously learned in treatment. These relapse prevention support groups can offer a former drug rehab patient a great deal of mutual encouragement, that only individuals with similar types of backgrounds are able to provide one another.

In this current age of computers, there are also a great number of online drug and alcohol relapse support groups that offer online meetings that are held at specific intervals during the week. When a person who is recovering from addiction clicks on to one of these live meetings, they will be able to meet with other former addicts in real time, in order to share their addiction struggles.

Online relapse prevention groups sometimes offer message board forums where former addicts can share various different relapse prevention techniques with other individuals who share the same types of struggles; this form of encouragement can be instrumental in helping a person in recovery to maintain the healthy changes in their behaviors, so that they do not revert back to their former drug or alcohol use. These groups meetings will often become a part of the former addict's daily life that promotes healthy functioning by providing the person in recovery with reminders about the importance of maintaining abstinence. A quality addiction recovery support group provides an opportunity for an individual who is recovering from substance abuse to be able to own the positive changes that they have made; they can accomplish this by helping newcomers to the group, which could contribute a positive prognosis for both individuals in their substance abuse recovery process.

Play the tape through beforehand-When a person that is recovering from a substance abuse problem begins to think about using, the fantasy tape that is playing in their head tells them that they will be able to control their addiction this time, and that they can stop after shooting up one more time or after having just one drink; unfortunately, this type of scenario, always ends up with the former addict feeling bad about themselves. Even worse, the individual that is in recovery for a substance abuse problem could wind up getting caught up again in the vicious cycle of addiction. One of the most effective relapse prevention techniques would be for the former addict to take a moment to play this tape through in their head beforehand, to its logical conclusion; thus, using drugs or alcohol may begin to lose their appeal.

A common theme in terms of a former addicts "magical thinking" is that they tell themselves that they can get away with using once or twice, because no one will know if they relapse; it is at this point that the addiction will try to convince the former drug rehab patient, that they do not have a significant problem, and that they are only in recovery to please other people. Remember, play the tape through before reaching for drugs or alcohol; doing so will remind a recovering addict of what they have already suffered, and alert them to the potential consequences that lie just around the corner if they experience a drug or alcohol relapse.

Maintaining a balanced diet and a regular exercise program-These are two of the most beneficial relapse prevention techniques, because they will not only help a former addict to stay sober, they will also have a positive impact on every single area of their lives. Studies have shown that poor nutrition is one of the leading causes of a drug or alcohol relapse for individuals who have struggled with substance abuse problems. The primary reason for this is that eating a balanced and healthy diet will make an individual that is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction feels significantly better; when a former addict feels great, they will be much less likely to reach for various different types of mood altering substances. Numerous studies have reported that dietary habits can trigger a series of chemical and physiological changes within the brain, which can affect a former addict's behavior and emotions; thus, what an individual in recovery for substance abuse eats could potentially have a significant impact on their mood. A large body of scientific research has determined that certain types of foods have been shown to be effective at curbing drug and alcohol cravings.

Exercise could possibly be one of the most effective relapse prevention techniques, because it has proven to be an excellent outlet for stress; conversely, a large body of research suggests that one of the major causes of a drug or alcohol relapse is directly related to stress. Many individuals who are in recovery for substance abuse have reported that they have often turned to alcohol and drugs in an effort to could alter their mood. A large body of scientific literature suggests that regular exercise causes a significant improvement in individuals that had reported symptoms of depression.

Exercise has been reported to cause the release of feel good chemicals in the brain, which has been proven to dramatically improve a person's mood; additionally, maintaining a regular exercise schedule can provide a person in recovery for addiction with a healthy hobby that does not involve drinking or using drugs. While drinking alcohol and using drugs may provide a temporary mood boost, drug and alcohol addiction has commonly been reported to lead to depression in the user; on the other hand, maintaining a regular exercise schedule, for as little as 30 minutes a day, for at least three times a week has proven to be effective at decreasing depression.

Becoming acutely aware of relapse warning signs-The primary reason that this is one of the most important relapse prevention techniques is because if a person that is recovering from is not aware of relapse warning signs, they could automatically revert back to their former addictive behaviors. Learning how to quickly identify drug relapse symptoms and learning what to do to successfully manage those symptoms is vital to any successful drug or alcohol relapse prevention plan. The former addict and the individuals in their support network should work together to develop a list of drug or alcohol relapse warning signs, so that every person that is actively involved in the substance abuse recovery process will be able to recognize when a former addict is at risk. This list of warning signs should not just include common warning signs, but should also include indications that could possibly be unique to the individual who is in recovery for substance abuse. Being able to identify specific relapse warning signs will help the former addicts and their loved ones to know when they are headed towards a possible relapse.

Learning what to do in the event of a drug or alcohol relapse- One of the most important relapse prevention techniques is related to what steps to take in the event of a drug or alcohol relapse. It is vital that the former addict and everyone that is involved with their drug or alcohol recovery plan, knows what to do, in order to prevent one slip up from spiraling into full-blown addiction. Once a relapse has been positively identified, the recovering individual and their support team should take a step back. Doing this will allow everyone that is involved in the substance abuse recovery process to be in a position to take an objective look at what actually happened; this can include analyzing the specific circumstances and behaviors that may have precipitated the relapse. Although the drug or alcohol relapse should be addressed directly, it is important for the support team to communicate to the former addict that one slip up does not make them a failure; the group can accomplish this by putting the emphasis on acknowledging many of the positive behavioral changes that the person in recovery has maintained. It is important that a person who is recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction understands that one misstep does not undo all of their hard work.

Keeping a daily journal-The reason that journaling can be one of the most effective relapse prevention techniques is two-fold; first, journaling is a great tool that a person in recovery for addiction can utilize to process their emotions, which has been proven to effectively reduce stress. Second, a written journal can allow a former addict to be able to reflect back on times when they experienced drug or alcohol cravings; looking back at times when they were able to get past a craving, without reaching for drugs or alcohol, serves as positive reinforcement.

Being able to identify and effectively manage drug or alcohol cravings- When a person that is recovering from substance abuse is not acutely aware of their drug or alcohol cravings, they will be especially vulnerable to a relapse; this is the reason that these are some of the most significant relapse prevention techniques to learn. When a former addict does not have the skills to identify what a craving feels like, they will not be able to be successful at managing the addictive thoughts that are so commonly associated with drug and alcohol cravings. It is also important that a person who is recovering from substance abuse to realize that the intense cravings will eventually begin to decrease in frequency and intensity. Some of the relapse prevention techniques that are healthy and effective responses to drug or alcohol cravings include soaking in a warm tub, going to an addiction support meeting, journaling about the feelings that are associated with this experience, deep breathing exercises, or waiting the craving out, without giving into to it.

Avoid the people, places and things that may trigger the urge to use-Logic dictates that these are some of the most vital relapse prevention techniques for a former addict to be aware of. The people that a former addict should avoid include the friends that are still drinking and drugging and individuals that do not support their goal of sobriety. A person who is recovering from addiction should also avoid bars where alcohol is being served and places where individuals are using drugs. The things that could trigger the urge to use in a former addict can include having easy access to alcohol and drugs, particularly those drugs that have a high abuse potential, such as pain pills or anti-anxiety medications.