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The Importance of Relapse Prevention Skills

Drug rehab relapse does not mean the end of recovery, it's merely a stage in the journey that needs to appropriately dealt with. Although relapse can be emotionally difficult on both the recovering addict and the family, relapse should never mean an acceptance of failure; and it simply means that the addict needs to work harder than ever to get back to sobriety, and to integrate what caused the relapse into a new and improved sobriety plan.

Relapse, even after participation in a residential drug rehab, is common; and although the statistics of recidivism vary greatly depending on the source, it's safe to say that one or more relapses are more likely than not going to occur at some point in the journey to recovery. But that doesn’t mean that a relapse must occur, and for many people, one intensive and serious commitment to treatment is enough to motivate behavioral change and a lifetime of sobriety.

More hard work is needed

Drug rehab relapse doesn’t have to mean failure. Too often, when faced with a quick relapse, recovering addicts and families feel like the whole process of recovery has been pointless, and recovering addicts use a small relapse as a justification back into full blow abuse.

The best way to deal with a drug rehab relapse is not to have a relapse in the first place; and the best way to avoid relapse is to give everything you can to the rehab process, to follow your recovery plan to the letter, and to make continuing aftercare a priority.

If a drug rehab relapse occurs, it's not the end of the world, and it simply means that more hard work is needed. Failure can never be an option, and no matter how many relapses and rehabs it takes to achieve sobriety, ultimate success can be the only goal worth living towards.

No two addicts are alike, and what causes sobriety in one may offer little to another; but in general, there are three components to success in drug addiction treatment.


How to increase the odds

To increase the odds of long term sobriety, the recovering addict needs to participate fully and honestly in all of the recovery programming during treatment, the recovering addict needs to work to discover their triggers to abuse, to develop a personalized recovery plan…and to follow that plan once residential rehab is completed; and the recovering addict must make a long term commitment to participate in aftercare programming.

1. Participate with honesty and commitment in all of the programs of rehab

No one but the recovering addict can induce personal change and growth, and to create the best probability of long term sobriety the period of intensive treatment must be maximized. Full, honest and introspective participation in recovery sessions allows for the growth and self awareness that makes future abuse less likely.

Anyone can go through the motions, and ultimately, even the toughest of programs cannot cause internal change in a resistant patient. Change comes from within, and change starts with a commitment to hard, emotional, and honest recovery and reflection.

2. Make a recovery plan and stick to it

Through an honest and committed participation in the therapeutic treatments of a drug rehab program, recovering addicts gain a better understanding of the their triggers to use and abuse, and the people and social and environmental situations that make abuse more likely.

Using this newfound awareness, recovering addicts need to create a detailed and comprehensive recovery and sobriety plan. Making a plan for the initial and very risky first period out of rehab ensures continued temptation aversion, and encourages a practice of the lessons of rehab once back in the home environment.

Although making an honest and comprehensive recovery plan is important, the plan isn't worth much if there is no commitment to follow the directions of the plan once back home and again immersed in temptation. The recovery plan should keep you busy, keep you focused and keep you safe. Failure to follow an honest recovery plan increases the likelihood of drug rehab relapse.

It's always difficult to stay true to a demanding recovery document, but recovery is rarely easy, and a commitment to change and sobriety will require sacrifices.

3. A continuing participation in aftercare

After drug rehab, relapse occurs most frequently either in the very initial period once re exposed to the triggers and temptations to use, and again a few months later, when with the confidence of a period of sobriety accomplished, participation in aftercare is curtailed.

Recovery is a process, and it is a long one at that. The full and intensive participation in aftercare for at least a year is one of the best indicators of long term sobriety and success. Aftercare recommendations will vary based on the needs of the recovering addict, but aftercare will at a minimum consist of continuing peer group meetings (AA or NA for example) and continuing occasional sessions with an addictions professional.

The changing realities and emerging stresses of life after rehab require a continuing commitment to abstinence, and a continuing modification of the recovery plan. Staying involved in aftercare encourages the integration of the lessons of rehab into everyday life, and keeps a recovering addict focused on success.

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