Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery
There are four main ideas in relapse prevention.
- First, relapse is a gradual process with distinct stages. The goal of treatment is to help individuals recognize the early stages, in which the chances of success are greatest.
- Second, recovery is a process of personal growth with developmental milestones. Each stage of recovery has its own risks of relapse.
- Third, the main tools of relapse prevention are cognitive therapy and mind-body relaxation, which are used to develop healthy coping skills.
- Fourth, most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules. Educating clients in these rules can help them focus on what is important: 1) change your life (recovery involves creating a new life where it is easier to not use); 2) be completely honest; 3) ask for help; 4) practice self-care; and 5) don’t bend the rules.
Summary and conclusions
Individuals do not achieve recovery by just not using. Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use. If individuals do not change their lives, then all the factors that contributed to their addiction will still be there. But most individuals begin recovery by hoping to get back their old life without the using. Relapse is a gradual process that begins weeks and sometimes months before an individual picks up alcohol or a drug.
There are three stages to relapse: emotional, mental, and physical. The common denominator of emotional relapse is poor self-care. If individuals do not practice sufficient self-care, eventually they will start to feel uncomfortable in their own skin and look for ways to escape, relax, or reward themselves.
The goal of treatment is to help individuals recognize the early warning signs of relapse and develop coping skills to prevent relapse early, when the chances of success are greatest. Most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules. Understanding these rules can help clients focus on what is important: 1) change your life; 2) be completely honest; 3) ask for help; 4) practice self-care; and 5) don’t bend the rules.