The Importance of Relapse Prevention Planning

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Planning

There are lots of tools to use on a day-to-day basis to try and reach a stable place in recovery. Relapse is one of the biggest setbacks that threaten this stability, but there are tools to help with that, too, like a relapse prevention plan. At Sanctuary Recovery, we understand the power of a proactive approach, so in this blog, we will look at the importance of relapse prevention planning and how it might help you. 

If you need a safe space to stay sober, our sober living environment at The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation may be right for you. Contact us and learn how we can help.

What is the Purpose of a Relapse Prevention Plan?

The purpose of a relapse prevention plan is to be prepared because being prepared for the worst is your biggest weapon against relapse. You can do this by understanding cravings, avoiding triggers, surrounding yourself with people who care, or creating a relapse prevention plan. This plan should look at all the vulnerabilities you may come across and map out a way to overcome them by identifying factors that might lead to a relapse and planning actions to take when these factors occur.

Benefits of a Relapse Prevention Plan

Increased self-awareness 

You have to fully understand yourself to really take advantage of a relapse prevention plan. Identifying triggers and early warning signs for cravings are all things you will need to track and get to know. This will lead to an increased sense of self-awareness. 

Enhanced confidence

When you have a plan in place with plenty of tools and strategies, you can feel more confident in your sense of control and sobriety. 

Reduced anxiety

Knowing what will happen each step of the way can really help some people relieve anxiety around their recovery.

Improved support network

You can involve others in your plan, allowing you to be open and honest and create friendships based on truth and trust. This can strengthen relationships.

Relapse Prevention Planning: Building Your Toolkit

Creating your relapse prevention plan can be done with a coach or alone. Here’s a look at the steps you may take to build your own plan:

Step 1: Self-Assessment

It starts by assessing your triggers, cravings, and past reasons for relapse. Having a clear picture in place of what may cause a relapse is key to finding the right way to tackle the possibility of another one. 

Step 2: Identifying Coping Mechanisms

Compile a big list of healthy coping techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation, creativity, support groups, and distractions. Match these techniques with the triggers, cravings, and circumstances you have identified as issues so you know what to do when these negative emotions/circumstances arise again. 

Step 3: Plan for Crises

The chosen coping mechanisms might not work despite your best efforts. In this case, you should have a crisis plan in place that will completely remove you from the ability to use substances at all. This could be walking to a support group or calling a therapist. 

Step 3: Action Over Results 

When creating this plan, it’s important to decide the actions you will take, not the result these actions will have. This is a lesson that AA teaches, too. The idea is to focus only on the next steps you will take, and the next and the next, and not worry when small setbacks occur. It’s important to keep taking action toward your goals and not punish yourself for falling short. Every time you practice your plan and take action, it will become easier to reach the results you really want. 

Relapse Prevention Plan Example

Here is a breakdown of what your plan might look like:

Trigger: Feeling isolated and lonely after leaving work.

Early Warning Sign: Increased anxiety, ruminating thoughts about past substance use.

Coping Mechanism: Call a trusted friend or sponsor, practice deep breathing exercises, or attend a recovery meeting.

Crisis Plan: If cravings become overwhelming, visit a safe location like a support group meeting or call the local recovery hotline.

Sanctuary Recovery is Here to Help You on Your Journey to Recovery

At Sanctuary Recovery, we believe a relapse prevention plan is a great tool but not the biggest tool you can have at your disposal. For that, we recommend sober living, an environment where others are going through the same as you whilst living in a house free of substances. In our sober living homes, we offer structured yet personalized environments, coaching sessions, and access to a holistic network of resources – all geared towards empowering you to build your own sober life. If you are considering a community and professionals to help you through this difficult time, reach out to Sanctuary Recovery Foundation today.