Why Having a Relapse Prevention Plan is Key to Recovering from Addiction 'Don't Be Scared of Relapses, Fight it, Head On! Addiction comes in all different shapes and sizes. Even after all the emotional and physical effort of getting rid of an addiction to alcohol or substance abuse, there is still a possibility of relapse. If you are reading this, chances are you or your loved are going through a tough time getting rid of addiction. First and foremost, you should come to the realization that recovery hardly ever goes as planned. More often than not, an individual going through recovery will experience a relapse or even several relapses. This is perfectly normal but still a hazardous phase in the road to sobriety. 'Let's say the moment has arrived and you are currently dealing with a relapse, what should you do? A Relapse Prevention Plan (RPP) is an effective way to deal with the situation if and when it occurs. A prevention plan addresses a variety of conditions that can lead to you or someone relapsing and puts measures in place to stop the behaviour. Each RPP is unique and dependant on the individual, however, there are templates that you can use to create a prevention plan. One template you can use involves addressing five specific categories: Cravings, Triggers, Preventative Tools, Support Groups, and Damage Control. Keep reading below to understand better how to treat each type when creating a prevention plan. Cravings If you 'don't already know, a craving is when the recovering addict wants to use the substance that they are trying to refrain from. This can be tricky to navigate, but more often than not, distracting oneself or having someone to call for support is the best way to address it. The busier an individual is, the less likely they will have time to even think about drugs or alcohol. A replacement behaviour is also a great way to deal with cravings correctly. If you are a recovering alcoholic, maybe drinking kombucha (a fermented drink with no alcohol content) is a way to substitute that craving. Feeling restless and thinking about taking pills? Try going for a jog or build a workout routine not only to get your body healthy but distract yourself from that persistent craving. Triggers Certain people, places, or things can create a trigger that causes a craving. 'It's hard to determine what all possible triggers are since everyone is so different, but trying to find them out ahead of time is a great way to take power away from the trigger. Below are some questions that can be addressed to determine what possible triggers there are. Which places did I most often do drugs at? What people remind me of my old lifestyle? Which actions cause me to think about relapsing? It is difficult if not impossible, to find and avoid every possible trigger there is. However, the more an addict knows about their habits and tendencies, the easier it will be to manage those impulses and avoid it altogether. Preventative Tools Creating a healthy lifestyle requires individuals to develop positive behaviours, habits, and hobbies that promote a balanced mind, body, and spirit. Think of a prevention tool as something that stops the possibility of a relapse crossing the mind. A prevention tool can be a journal to write thoughts in, practicing a new sport, learning a new skill, or anything else that can make you replace harmful behaviour and habits with positive ones. Support Groups Many people make the mistake of thinking support groups make them look weak minded, nothing could be farther from the truth. Having a support group and making connections with people who are also suffering from addiction is a great way to realize that you are not the only one suffering. Connecting with like-minded individuals and counsellors is an effective way to talk about problems that cause issues and gives addicts a support line if there is no family support in place to help them. Sometimes, bottling inside every problem and negative thought someone has can lead to relapse out of sadness, frustration or desperation. Support groups are a way to comfortably express negative feelings and possibly be humbled by other 'people's struggles. Damage Control Let's say all the above tools and practices are in place, and the relapse still occurs, what next? If immediate assistance is required, and nothing is working, breathing and meditation practices are an effective way of taking back control of the mind. Deep, slow breathing allows the heart rate to slow down and gives the body a moment to be connected with itself. People who do yoga or practice meditation often express how much less anxiety they have, how it helps battle depression, and how it helps them connect with their mind, body, and spirit. Learning to love and trust your body is essential in developing the willpower to combat negative impulses. Building a deep relationship with yourself is the key to establishing self-control over negative urges. One Step at a Time If someone keeps relapsing, it is essential that they do not let negative emotions and feelings take control of their mind. We are all human, and we all make mistakes, beating yourself up over it does nothing except make things worse. People suffering from addiction need to focus on developing a positive outlook for themselves, no matter how many mistakes or dark moments they deal with during recovery. Having an RPP is crucial to understanding the causes that trigger a relapse, which creates the cravings, and how to manage those problems when they arise. Feeling sorry for oneself does nothing but perpetuate a negative outlook on life and should be avoided as much as possible. It is essential to stay positive and continue the fight to sobriety one day at a time without rushing the process. Trust the relapse prevention plan in place, continue to discover new ways of battling addiction, and never be afraid to ask for help if it is necessary.