Relapse Prevention - Drug Addiction

This is always a risk during addiction recovery but it is important not to see it as an admission of failure or a weakness of character. Stopping an addiction to nicotine, alcohol or drugs is a very difficult thing to do and requires a fair amount of courage and willpower to succeed.

Many people do succeed but some of these may have relapsed once, twice or even several times before finally beating their addiction.

It can be frustrating when you are trying to kick your habit and then you suddenly give in to the cravings. It can feel like all your hard work has been for nothing and that you cannot beat your addiction.

Don’t give up

But that is where you are wrong.

Accept that a relapse is a risk but one that can be managed. We are all human and it is a very human thing to succumb to temptation.

So why not turn this into a positive by focussing upon the fact that you have progressed well during your treatment plan and that your family and friends are proud of how far you have come. They will support you through this and have realised that you will have good days and bad days.

If you have relapsed, for example have smoked a cigarette or have had a drink then don’t despair or give up. The best thing to do is to accept that it has happened, make a note of when and why it happened, what you think might have caused it and how you can prevent it from happening again.

As soon as you can, speak to your psychotherapist or counsellor and ask them for help on how to avoid this from happening again. They will be able to put together an ‘emergency plan’  which will contain ways of dealing with this, such as phoning a helpline or speaking to someone from your self-help group.

What this means is that you need a little bit extra support and motivation to help keep you on track.

How can you avoid a relapse?

There are steps you can take to prevent this from happening. These include ensuring that you are not in close contact with those things which comprised your addiction, for example alcohol in the house or medicine bottles (e.g. painkillers).

Try and avoid situations in which your emotions are involved which will result in you seeing your addiction as the answer or a form of escapism.

Try to avoid events or social situations in which you may be tempted to relapse. One example is if work colleagues ask you to go for a drink after work. It is better to refuse until you are at a point where cravings are no linger a problem and you feel relaxed about having a soft drink with them.

If you were part of a group of friends who take drugs than avoid them and make new friends.

Keep a telephone number of an addiction help line or your local support group close to hand so that you contact them if you feel as if you are going to relapse.

Keep attending self-help groups, counselling sessions and support networks even if you feel as if you don’t need their help any more. They can often spot the signs of a potential relapse long before you do and will advise you on how to deal with this.

If you suffer a relapse then be honest with yourself as to why it has happened, accept that it has and carry on with your treatment.        


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