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Relapse Prevention Plan

If you or a loved one has gone through the recovery process, then relapse is an all too familiar term.  Unfortunately, relapse is a common occurrence for those struggling with substance abuse.  Too often, people will enter sobriety, work on themselves and their substance issues, only to relapse after days, weeks, months, or even years of sobriety.  This is where a relapse prevention plan comes in handy; by creating and utilizing a relapse prevention plan, individuals can highly increase their chances of not only staying sober, but getting back to healthy habits and sobriety if/when relapse does occur.

What is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Typically, a relapse prevention plan is a guide to understanding your patterns, and then setting actionable goals around what to do if relapse does occur.  The plan is two-fold: if you can identify triggers, cravings, and potential pitfalls ahead of time, you are more likely to avoid relapse in the first place.  Secondly, you’ll want to have a predetermined plan around exactly what to do, who to call, and where to “restart” if relapse does occur.

Let’s look at the first portion of a relapse prevention plan first, i.e. self-awareness.  A standard relapse prevention plan will want to identify common triggers and cravings.

Relapse Prevention Plan

Triggers

So what exactly are triggers?  They can be essentially anything that causes cravings for a person struggling with substance abuse.  People, places, and things can catalyze powerful sensory recall. Oftentimes, addicts/alcoholics are unaware that these triggers exist until they are already dangerously close to a relapse.  However, because of the way our brains operate, each trigger is going to be highly personal.  Let’s look at some examples of how this might differ from person to person:

People

The most common “people” triggers are those that the individual used drugs/alcohol with.  Certain friend groups, or even family members, can trigger cravings almost immediately if there are memories of drug use associated with the person.  One individual might be triggered by their parents (especially if they are habitual drug/alcohol users). Someone else might find their parents to be the best people that help foster and support a sober lifestyle. 

Places

As far as triggering places go, it is frequent that individuals will experience strong cravings when returning to environments that they previously used drugs/alcohol in.  Households, old neighborhoods, concert venues, hiking trails, vehicles: they can all trigger sensory recall of a time when using substances was still fun, before the addiction took over. 

Cravings

Things

Are you seeing a common thread yet?  That’s right, any ’thing’ that a person has associated with their past drug use can be extremely triggering.  Paraphernalia can be especially triggering. However, even “positive” objects can bring someone back to old times very quickly, and often with negative effects.  Though counterintuitive, sometimes even an old photo of happier times with supportive people can cause a craving immediately.

Identifying people, places, and things that are associated with past substance use can be paramount to a person’s continued, long-term sobriety.  Often, for at least the first year of sobriety, persons will want to actively avoid these triggers to the best of their ability.  

As the old saying from Alcoholics Anonymous goes: “If you hang out in the barbershop long enough, you’re bound to get a haircut”.

Relapse Prevention and Cravings

What exactly are cravings?  By common definition, cravings are physical and mental urges to use drugs and/or alcohol.  Cravings can be extremely powerful, especially in the first year of sobriety.  Many cravings are brought on by triggers, as discussed above.  However, sometimes cravings can happen for no obvious reason, regardless of sensory recall or otherwise.  

There are some general timelines to be aware of, typically described as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS).  Generally, the sobriety milestones of 30, 60, 90, and 180 days are prone to increased PAWS, and thus cravings.  This is because of the dopamine and serotonin disruption that substances cause to the brain, and those receptors will recover over time.  Thankfully, the physical symptoms of cravings only last approximately 10-20 minutes.  Thus, if you can utilize the coping skills you identify in your relapse prevention plan, there is opportunity for success every single time you experience physical cravings.

Relapse Prevention Plan

Mental cravings, however, are different than the physical.  While physical cravings are brief, the mental side can be carried on for hours.  Again, it is paramount that individuals suffering from substance abuse use their coping skills to relieve the mind of the need to use.  In early sobriety, limiting distractions of any sort can be of the utmost importance to getting through cravings.

Coping Skills

Coping skills tie into the second portion of relapse prevention plans. It is essential for someone in recovery to develop a set of actions they can engage in prior to or after a potential relapse.  Prior to relapse, coping skills can be utilized to disengage from triggering situations and intense cravings.  Some examples of these types of coping skills might include:

  • Going for a run
  • Calling a close friend or family member
  • Playing an instrument
  • Cooking a good meal
  • Swimming, biking, playing sports – any type of physical activity can help

If relapse does occur, then alternate coping skills should be put in place as quickly as possible in order to minimize the risk of prolonged drug/alcohol use.  Many people in sobriety use coping skills and plans of action such as:

  • Attending a community support group meeting (such as Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • Calling a sponsor, or other trusted confidant
  • Having an individual therapy session with a therapist

Sobriety and Your Relapse Prevention Plan

Relapse prevention plans will need to be created on an individual basis, as each individual’s struggles and needs are unique.  Developing an understanding of these three core concepts (triggers, cravings, and coping skills) will greatly increase a person’s chances of long-term recovery and sobriety.  Substance abuse is an extremely potent disease, from both physiological and mental perspectives. It is important to take every precaution necessary.

Relapse Prevention PlanIf you need help developing a relapse prevention plan, or need help addressing a loved one’s substance abuse issue, please contact us today.  Our highly-trained addiction specialists will be happy to aid you in the journey of recovery.

Recovery for Life

Addiction is one of those words that is often not taken seriously as kids. Most schools had some anti-drug programs with the aim to prevent youth from trying drugs. Further, a lot of us as kids would always say, “not me, I’d never do drugs” – let alone become addicted. Youth drug intervention programs focus on avoiding peer pressure and bad influences. Rarely do they touch on the underlying issues people face which may pave the way for drug use. For some people, it was never as easy as saying “no”- and we understand that. Recovery for life is the goal, even with the possibility and likelihood of relapse.

What are the stages of addiction?

Addiction to drugs is a complicated beast. Drug use is oftentimes voluntary at first. It is the subsequent uses and desires caused by the drug which can lead to addiction. 

Drugs make us feel good. A lot of drugs make us feel good by providing an euphoric high (such as marijuana and opioids). Alternatively, other drugs make us hallucinate which can cause a dissociative feeling of detachment from one’s mind. That is, unfortunately, the harsh truth about them. If they didn’t, substance use disorders would be less of a problem. So why is something that makes us feel good, so bad for us?

Drug use follows a pretty basic progression which can be applied in a very general sense to most drugs. Upon first use, the user will feel an immense rush of chemically induced emotions. This is something they perceive as either good or bad. Good responses will elicit further use, as your mind essentially says “I want more of whatever made me feel like that.” This also applies to other addictions such as food or sex. Our minds and bodies develop a mental connection to feeling good and whatever the catalyst may be. The challenge with preventing the first use happening is when it is through legal means such as an opioid prescription after surgery. Just because it was legally obtained and used to treat a medical issue, does not diminish its effects on the mind.

Different Stages of Addiction

Regular use begins when the user decides to make his or her drug use more predictable. For some, it may be a weekend/party vice that they partake in. For others, it may be drinking after getting home from work. As it begins to settle into a more predictable pattern, the drug becomes more important in their lives. 

Risky use is the stage where people become comfortable enough with the drug that they are willing to take risks that they otherwise wouldn’t, had they been sober. This includes drinking while driving or high. At this point, the user’s behavior is likely affecting their work and family life as they begin to feel more dependent on the drug. Dependence will eventually lead to developing a tolerance.

Another way of looking at it is that your body begins to adapt to the drug in order to lessen its effects because to our immune system, a drug is still a foreign object and your body would much rather be in its natural state of homeostasis. A tolerance will diminish the effect of the drug on the body, which in turn will cause you to take more the drug in order to actually feel the effects. Not only does this increase your dependence on the drug, but it can also cause an overdose if the dose reaches an unsafe level.

recovery for life

How does Reflections approach recovery?

Reflections Recovery Center uses a holistic approach to treatment. While we could simply treat the symptoms, it would do no good in the long run. Recovery is a lifetime goal with no expiration date. Therefore, our approach focuses on the mind, body, and soul, in addition to treating the withdrawal symptoms. Hopefully, with enough guidance, our patients will be able to take their lifetime recovery and sobriety into their own hands and resume living a healthy, independent life. 

Some of the tools we use to develop the mind and body include adventure therapy, yoga, Reiki, team sports and even help our clients develop life skills such as cooking, interview prep, and communication skills. 

substance use disorder

What is recovery for life?

Addiction is classified as a chronic disease. This places it in the same category as other chronic illnesses such as type II diabetes and cancer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “drug addiction shares many features with other chronic illnesses, including a tendency to run in families (heritability), an onset and course that is influenced by environmental conditions and behavior, and the ability to respond to appropriate treatment, which may include long-term lifestyle modification.”

recovery for life

Addiction also has similar relapse rates as cancer and type II diabetes. No one chooses to become an addict. Just like no one chooses to have cancer which is why it is important to look at recovery for life as the only goal. Simply managing the symptoms will open the door for relapse. This is why Reflections places such a heavy emphasis on holistic treatment and developing a relapse prevention plan. Going to rehab takes time and money, therefore, it makes no sense to try and simply manage the symptoms every time they arise or if you relapse. 

Treatment

Addiction is a complex issue. Reaching a lifetime of recovery and sobriety requires hard work, dedication and the attention of a trained professional. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today.

Sober Living


Sober home living can be beneficial to anyone who is looking for a stable environment to assist them in transitioning from an inpatient program to living a free, independent and sober life. Sober living homes offer the flexibility and freedom of living on your own while still reinforcing lessons learned in rehab. Most sober homes require individuals to have successfully completed some inpatient recovery program in order to live at the residence.

What is a sober living home?

Sober living homes are group homes which are completely free of drugs or alcohol. It is essentially like renting a home with roommates- except with more rules. The residents are there to adjust to daily life outside of an inpatient rehab program. They do so while being surrounded by a supportive community of people also recovering from addiction. Residents will typically pay rent and pull their fair share of work by cleaning and maintaining the property. Individuals will also likely have to actively participate in regular meetings and some homes may require random drug testing. Homes may also have a resident manager who supervises the house and enforces the rules.

However, for the most part, residents are in complete control of their own recovery. This allows them to develop strong life management skills and increases their chances at long-term sobriety. They are free to come and go as they please whether that be for work, family or leisure activities.

sober living

Often times, someone in recovery will relapse and go back to their old life where they are surrounded by negative influences. Addiction is considered a chronic disease which means it has the same relapse rates as other chronic illnesses such as hypertension and asthma. Therefore, relapse is not only possible, but likely. Sober living homes, however, can take some of that pressure off by placing individuals in a highly supportive but monitored environment. At Reflections, we offer an Aftercare Plan for individuals who are looking for continued support in their journey to life-long sobriety.

sober living - aftercare plan

What is the difference between a sober house and halfway house?

It can be easy to confuse sober homes and halfway homes as they essentially provide the same service. However, halfway homes are typically associated with government housing which is provided as a transition for those recovering from addiction. In some cases, halfway homes are reserved for formerly incarcerated individuals (though this is not always the case). Halfway homes also tend to be cheaper than sober living homes as they are more crowded, state funded and provide less amenities. 

According to a study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, the essential characteristics of a sober living home which distinguished itself from a halfway home are:

1) An alcohol and drug free living environment for individuals attempting to abstain from alcohol and drugs.

2) Members are either mandated or strongly encouraged to attend 12-step self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

3) Required compliance with house rules such as maintaining abstinence, paying rent and other fees, participating in household chores and attending house meetings.

4) Resident responsibility for financing rent and other costs.

5) Residents are able to stay in the house as long as they wish if they comply with house rules.

How much do sober living homes cost?

Sober homes will typically cost the same as an apartment in the area you are looking at. Locations such as San Francisco or New York will cost more than our locations in Prescott. They can range from $300/mo to $2000/mo.

sober living - financing

Some homes will accept insurance however it is up to your insurance company to determine how much they will cover. Reach out to the home and work directly with them and your insurance to see how you can cover costs. 

It is possible your insurance will not cover any of the costs or you do not have insurance. However, you still have some options to pay for your sober living:

  • Scholarships: Some homes will offer its residents scholarships if they have shown commitment and dedication to staying sober.
  • Finance the cost: Using your personal savings, bank loans or credit cards can help you pay for a sober house.
  • Earn an Income: Sober homes allow you to come and go as you please which provides the opportunity to work and earn an income.
  • Payment Plan: Some homes will allow you to set up a payment plan which will break down the overall cost of living into bite size chunks.

How long can I stay in a sober home?

The duration of your stay will differ depending on your needs. However, people can spend anywhere from 3-24 months at a sober home. Generally speaking, this will allow you adequate time to situate yourself with a job and develop confidence in your sobriety.

As stated above, often those in recovery face challenges to their sobriety when they return to the same life. Often, though not always, people were in situations that contributed to substance abuse and addiction. It is important to seek help for as long as needed. Further, a good treatment center will help patients figure out the best plan after completing treatment. Sober living is important to recovery and should not be discounted. In recovery, the initial few months and even year are often the most vulnerable.

Continue Your Journey With Us

Time at a sober living home is limited. Therefore it is important that you develop skills, relationships and resources to maintain sobriety when you eventually leave. Here at Reflections we emphasize the necessary skills to best prevent or manage relapse and continued sobriety. However, in order to reside in a sober home, you must successfully complete an inpatient rehab program such as the ones we offer at our Prescott location. We are here to help you on your journey, contact us today if you or a loved one is in need of assistance.