Drug addiction is a mental disorder that never goes away. People can learn to manage it, but they can never cure it. Since addiction doesn’t go away, learning about relapse prevention is important. In fact, many rehab centers focus on preventing relapse to reduce the risks of overdose and death.

What Is Relapse Prevention?

Two happy young women discussing relapse prevention techniquesRelapse prevention focuses on life after rehab. To prevent relapse, people have to identify triggers and cognitive behaviors that may cause it. Identifying triggers makes it easier for people to avoid situations that might lead to drug use.

For example, stressful situations can trigger a relapse. When you know that stress makes you want to use, you take proactive measures to lower stress. However, it’s not just emotions and feelings that cause a relapse. Sometimes, hanging out with certain people or visiting specific places can spur relapse.

Programs that teach people how to prevent relapse take both short- and long-term sobriety into account. Learning preventative measures can help people avoid problem behavior. Preventing relapsing is a part of sober living.

Stages of Relapse

Relapse doesn’t usually happen all of a sudden. People often struggle with the thought of using again long before they actually do. Overall, there are three stages of relapse.

Emotional RelapseDuring the emotional relapse stage, people don’t necessarily think about using. However, their actions and feelings subconsciously increase the potential for relapse. If they don’t have relapse prevention training, they can easily miss signs such as mood swings, isolation, and defensiveness.

The symptoms of emotional relapse are very similar to post-acute withdrawal. Understanding this condition makes it easier to identify the onset of emotional relapse. Failure to identify emotional relapse makes the phases progress quickly.

Mental RelapseThe next stage is mental relapse. During this stage, people think about using drugs. Mental relapse feels like there’s a war inside their minds. Part of them wants to use, but the other doesn’t.

Even if people lean toward not using drugs, they still think about using. Simply thinking about it puts them in danger of relapse. Some signs of mental relapse include:

  • Hanging out with old friends who use drugs
  • Thinking or fantasizing about using drugs
  • Glamorizing past usage habits
  • Lying to loved ones and friends

Physical RelapseThe most dangerous phase is physical relapse. It doesn’t typically take people long to get to this stage. They physically start to use drugs again and need detox and rehab again, to recover.

During a physical relapse, people usually feel bad about the choices they make. They can enter a deep depression because they feel like they let their families and friends down. The key is to remember that relapse is common. Giving in to depression can make the relapse worse.

Instead, they need to get on their feet and renter rehab. They have to focus on relapse prevention to prevent the same outcome.

Techniques for Avoiding Relapse

Once people reach the third stage of relapse, they have no choice but to seek help from a rehab center once again. However, some relapse prevention techniques can help them avoid getting to this point. Using these techniques can mean the difference between staying sober and relapse.

Wait 30 MinutesPeople need to give themselves 30 minutes before they use drugs again. While this may seem like an odd technique, 30 minutes makes a huge difference. Most drug cravings last about 15 to 20 minutes. If they can get over that hump, they’re less likely to use.

Take Recovery One Day at a TimeDon’t think about staying clean forever. People often feel overwhelmed when they think about staying clean forever. Instead, they should think about staying clean for a day.

They can tell themselves, “I’m not going to use today.” Then they can take their sobriety one day at a time.

Relax and Stay CalmStaying calm and focusing on relaxation is just as important as not using drugs. Most people admit to relapsing when they feel stressed out. Focus on learning calming techniques that can reduce stress.

Learn How to Overcome Addiction at Santé Center for Healing

At Santé Center for Healing, we offer several substance abuse treatment programs. We teach our clients about relapse prevention and how to detect triggers. Some of the other programs we offer include:

Santé Center for Healing also offers educational sessions. Our goal is to teach our clients and their families about addiction. Some of the sessions that we offer include “Intro into Addiction” and “Family Assistance.”

Don’t live with the threat of addiction hanging over your head. Learn how to overcome your addiction and keep it from coming back. Reach out to Santé Center for Healing at 866-238-3154. We’ll guide you through recovery with a gentle hand.