Relapse prevention PMC


Relapse prevention therapy (RPT) was developed over 40 years ago by G. This approach helps people in recovery anticipate the factors that might cause them to engage in their addictive behavior again—and to plan ahead for these situations. Addiction Resource is an educational platform for sharing and disseminating information about addiction and substance abuse recovery centers. Addiction Resource is not a healthcare provider, nor does it claim to offer sound medical advice to anyone. Addiction Resource does not favor or support any specific recovery center, nor do we claim to ensure the quality, validity, or effectiveness of any particular treatment center.

relapse prevention

Breathalyzers have the advantage of being quick and inexpensive to administer. However, at this time, breathalyzers are only able to detect alcohol, so they may not provide deterrence against relapse on other substances unless combined with random relapse prevention urine drug screens. Smartphone technology has resulted in remote breathalyzer programs in which an individual can provide a sample into a Bluetooth-connected breathalyzer while the mobile phone takes a picture to confirm their identity.

Manage withdrawal symptoms

A relapse prevention plan can be a list of reminders written on a note or mobile app. Or it can be a journal or workbook where you develop a comprehensive list of risky scenarios and the corresponding actions to take to maintain sobriety. Poor self-care leads to negative emotions, feelings of unhappiness and increased levels of stress. As people continue to practice poor self-care, they transition into a mental relapse. Nurses most often use the same monitoring as individuals in the rest of the healthcare team.

When people don’t understand relapse prevention, they think it involves saying no just before they are about to use. But that is the final and most difficult stage to stop, which is why people relapse. If an individual remains in mental relapse long enough without the necessary coping skills, clinical experience has shown they are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol just to escape their turmoil. If you’re not sure how to move through the recovery process, follow one of the relapse prevention plan models that are available. Substance abuse and mental health expert Terry Gorski has a nine-step relapse prevention plan that can help you recognize and manage relapse warning signs. Alan Marlatt, PhD, developed an approach that uses mental, behavioral, and lifestyle choices to prevent relapse.

Emphasizing Emotional Awareness (HALT)

That view contrasts with the evidence that addiction itself changes the brain—and stopping use changes it back. Use of a substance delivers such an intense and pleasurable “high that it motivates people to repeat the behavior, and the repeated use rewires the brain circuitry in ways that make it difficult to stop. Evidence shows that eventually, in the months after stopping substance use, the brain rewires itself so that craving diminishes and the ability to control behavior increases. The brain is remarkably plastic—it shapes and reshapes itself, adapts itself in response to experience and environment.

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People who maintain sobriety for several weeks or months become much less tolerant than they were in the past. If they relapse and use the same dose that they used during active addiction, their risk of overdose is high. However, people who slip and don’t seek help often experience a physical relapse. They begin using obsessively or compulsively, and they start to experience negative consequences from that use. It usually begins weeks or months before a person slips for the first time. Researchers have divided those phases into three easy-to-understand stages.