The fact of the matter is that not everyone’s recovery trajectory is the same. Some people have a very linear recovery, while others may take a few side steps on their journey. These side steps may represent a relapse, but they don’t have to if an effective relapse prevention plan is set in place. 

The Prevalence of Relapses After Treatment

Relapses are more common than many people may think. According to the peer-reviewed article Addiction Relapse Prevention by Doctors Guenzel and McChargue. “One primary concern in addiction treatment is the high rate of relapses within a short period after even the most intensive treatment. Many studies have shown relapse rates of approximately 50% within the first 12 weeks after completion of intensive inpatient programs that often last 4 to 12 weeks or more and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.”

These are rather staggering statistics, but they need not be discouraging. With an effective relapse prevention plan set in place before leaving intensive treatment, the chances of a relapse can go down significantly.

What Is a Relapse and a Relapse Prevention Plan?

The concept of a relapse prevention plan is pretty straightforward (it’s all in the name), but implementing one is much more involved. Before understanding a release prevention plan, it is best to understand one major aspect of a relapse; it is a “process,” not an “event.” This means that a relapse actually starts to happen long before the actual drink or drug is consumed.

Doctors Guenzel and McChargue break relapses down into three separate components. These are the emotional, mental, and physical stages of a relapse. This is also represented in 12-Step recovery as the spiritual malady, the obsession of the mind, and the phenomenon of craving.

The emotional (spiritual malady) stage comes on when an individual starts to feel disconnected from their recovery. They often start to feel the same types of helplessness and loneliness that they felt when they were drinking or using. When this happens, they often feel like a drink or a drug may be the solution. Next is the mental (obsession of the mind) stage. This is when the thought of a drink or a drug permeates their entire thought-life. When this happens, without intervention, the third stage, physical (the phenomenon of craving), is near inevitable. That then leads to drinking or using. But, with an effective relapse prevention plan, this doesn’t have to happen.

What Does an Effective Release Prevention Plan Look Like?

An effective relapse prevention plan is going to look like a plan of action. This means that there is going to be a lot of communication, participation, and service.

Communication can come in the form of recovery meetings and creating an effective and expansive “sober network.” These are recovery peers and professionals who can be contacted both when times are going well and when things start to feel rocky and heading toward the cliff’s edge of relapse. Participating in recovery means using this sober network and attending and engaging with a recovery community. As people with healthy recovery often say, “If you stay in the middle of the pack, you are less likely to be left behind.” Being part of an alumni group is also a great way to stay engaged.

Staying engaged also means being “of service.” Being of service means helping others who are both new in recovery and those who are potentially struggling in their recovery. This means picking up the phone when someone in need calls and intervening when someone is about to or has recently relapsed. The truth is that there is a paradox in doing service in recovery. Because by helping others, an individual is ultimately helping themselves more. The primary text of 12-Step recovery (most commonly known as the “Big Book”) states, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.”

The Benefits of a Relapse Prevention Plan

Besides staying sober as the ultimate benefit, there are other benefits that come with an effective relapse prevention plan. Some of these benefits are as follows:

  • Helps alleviate tension in the home by creating concrete boundaries and consequences
  • Offers structure and clear goals for the future
  • Eliminates loneliness via healthy recovery involvement
  • Can help develop coping skills for when triggering events should arise
  • Helps people detect when they may be in the early stages of a relapse so they can avoid going down the relapse road any further

Avoiding Relapse With Clearview Girls Academy

Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we don’t believe in “quick fix” recovery. This is why we always create a long-term recovery plan for each of our students before they leave our recovery center.

We also encourage our students to stay engaged with us and their recovery peers in alumni programs. As they have long said in the meeting rooms of the Twelve Steps, “Recovery is a We program, not a Me program,” and We’ll be here waiting when anyone anywhere needs our help.

The unfortunate reality of recovery is that some people will experience a relapse. However, creating an effective relapse prevention plan is one way to better ensure that a relapse doesn’t happen (or doesn’t happen again). This plan may include staying connected to recovery peers and professionals, joining an alumni program, creating a strong sober network, and ensuring that the home is a safe and sober environment. If you are struggling with relapses or feel like you may be heading toward one, we can help. For more information on effective and successful relapse prevention plans and how to avoid chronic relapsing, please reach out to Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484.