It’s often said that relapse is a part of recovery, however, this is a myth. While it’s true that many people do relapse, it isn’t a requirement! And, while relapse should never be considered a failure, it is important that steps are taken to prevent it. This is because relapse can be devastating — even fatal. The Stages Of Relapse One of the first steps in preventing relapse is awareness. Rarely is relapse a spontaneous event, although it may appear that way on the surface. There are signs, and recognizing those signs is a big part of relapse prevention. Stage One: During this stage, things may seem fine. Perhaps you’ve gotten too busy for recovery activities such as meetings. Maybe you are extra stressed or wrapped up in a relationship. You may pull away from friends and other support systems. You might find yourself feeling down or anxious, or feeling restless or discontent. You aren’t thinking of using. Stage Two: Things may escalate a bit here. You still aren’t necessarily thinking of using, although you could be entertaining the thought. You may be unhappy with your life, isolated from friends, and feeling resentful. You aren’t thinking in terms of gratitude but are likely acutely aware of everything that’s going wrong in your life. You aren’t putting any time into your recovery. Stage Three: In this stage, you are probably thinking of using, or putting yourself in places or around people where using is present. You may be feeling angry, hopeless, irritable, bored and generally unsatisfied with life. You may be acting out in other ways besides using. At this point, it doesn’t take much to go from thinking about using to using. This is where relapse happens. How To Prevent Relapse Ideally, you would never get to the first stage of relapse, but it does happen. Isolating, getting busy, experiencing stress or bad circumstances are a part of life. It’s often during the times we need to pursue recovery the most that we find we are too busy for it. However, if you become aware that you are in “relapse mode” it’s possible to turn things around. This is where relapse prevention education and planning comes in handy. Early recovery is a particularly vulnerable time, this is why relapse prevention education should happen while still in treatment. This is where you learn about the stages of relapse, potential triggers, reservations and how to address them, and what to do when confronted with an urge to use. One of the best defenses against relapse is support. Developing a solid support system is vital to ongoing recovery. Relapse prevention education can help give you pointers on how to develop and nurture this support. It’s often our supportive friend in recovery who are the first to spot relapse mode. They may tell us that we’ve been unavailable, isolating or acting out. Learning Coping Skills Coping skills are another important part of relapse prevention. Having these tools helps you when things get rough when cravings hit, or when you are confronted with an unsafe situation. Part of a relapse prevention plan involves knowing where to turn and what to do when these things happen. What will you do if you feel like using? Will you call someone? What happens if you find yourself someplace where drugs are being offered, or people are drinking? This is all part of relapse prevention education. What If You Relapse? Relapse does happen, but all is not lost. In the event of a relapse, it’s important that you get back on track as quickly as possible. While relapse prevention is the goal, having a plan in place in case you do relapse is equally important so you can minimize the damage and stay in recovery. This means having a safe person to contact, getting back to meetings, and getting extra support. Finding A Relapse Prevention Program If you are looking for treatment for an addiction problem, it’s important to choose a program that provides comprehensive relapse prevention and aftercare services. Relapse prevention education is an important aspect of treatment because it gives you the tools to help keep you sober after you leave treatment, and greatly improves your chances of success. Getting Help At Wayside House If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer a 90-day inpatient rehab with relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare. Contact Wayside House at 561-278-0055 to learn more.