Do you have the drug relapse prevention education and tools to handle the most common causes of drug and alcohol relapse?
Despite the best of intentions, a large number of people entering addiction recovery will relapse.
Addiction recovery can be looked at as having 3 phases, each with its goals and growth opportunities. In each phase there are certain dangers present that need to be identified and planned for. Forewarned is forearmed. Let’s take a look at each of these 3 phases.
Read on to learn the 3 phases of addiction recovery and the common, pitfalls of each that need relapse prevention skills.
Phase 1, Early Drug Addiction And Alcohol Recovery
In early the early phases of recovery the goal at its simplest is abstinence from all mood altering chemicals. Stop using. This is the fundamental concept of getting clean In order to do that certain areas of knowledge drug addiction needs to be learned and addressed:
- Knowledge of addiction and its global effects must be learned. You are significantly altering your brain in three ways. You are messing with that chemical composition of your brain, the structure of your brain and function of your brain. You are introducing your poison into your body and affecting many systems. You’re trying to kill yourself your body is trying to keep you alive. Take the negative effect you think you’re having which is probably negligible on your family and friends multiply it by 10 you might be in the ballpark.
- Refusal skills and coping skills must be identified and learned. In the early phase of recovery quite simply you must learn how to say no. There is more to it than those hokey ad campaigns. You must learn to say no to yourself, just because you “feel” like doing something doesn’t mean that you have to actually do it. You must learn how to say no in situations where your drug of choice will be presented to you. The most essential coping skills you need to learn and practice is how to handle the inevitable drug urges and cravings that will occur.
- A sobriety based support system must be started and developed. “I can’t do it alone, but we can do it together.” Is a twelve-step motto. The fact of the matter is that lone wolves do not do well in recovery. You must have the support of people who are knowledgeable about addiction and are successful in recovery. People who are “normies”, though well-intentioned, simply do not have the experiential basis to provide the type of help you need in crisis.
People entering early recovery need to learn how to develop, thinking, feelings, and behaviors based in recovery principles to replace those formed while in active addiction.
The major cause of relapse during the phase 1, or the early recovery period is not developing effective recovery and social skills that are needed to build an abstinence and recovery based lifestyle.
Phase 2, Middle Recovery Stage Of Drug Addiction Recovery
The major goal of development in middle recovery is establishing a balanced lifestyle. A major objective is to start to identify the wreckage of the past and start to address it. With abstinence established in phase 1, it is time to turn to developing personal growth and maturity. Stress can sometimes escalate as the person returns to ‘the real world’. Items often addressed are:
- Doing personal work to reestablish self-esteem and self-worth. There is not an addict alive who is not seriously damaged their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. A person simply cannot do what addicts need to do to get high and stay high without lowering the standards and dishonoring their word. In this phase of recovery the addict will start practicing a new way of living according to moral and ethical principles.
- Repairing damaged relationships with family and friends. This is a time when relationships with family and friends may start to improve. This is not due to you apologizing and saying you’re sorry, but more due to the fact that you are acting and living in a sober life. It’s called making a living amends. Let your actions speak for yourself.
- Moving back into society in a contributing and productive way. This may mean that you are working in a job or going back to school. The main point is that you are contributing to the world around you. You’re also growing and developing to be more productive.
The major cause of relapse during the middle recovery period is handling emotions and relationships generated by life problems.
- The Recovery Book is the easiest to read reference book on 100’s of topics on addiction recovery. I know tons of couselors who have this on their book shelf and refer to it constantly.
- The Happy Addict. The Happy Addict is the ultimate guide to achieving an amazing life after addiction. No more guilt. No more shame. No more feeling held back by the past or low self-esteem.
- The Craving Mind. This ia an Amazon Best Seller. A leading neuroscientist and pioneer in the study of mindfulness explains why addictions are so tenacious and how we can learn to conquer them.
The Recovery Book: Answers to Questions About Addiction and AlcoholismThe Happy Addict: How to be Happy in Recovery from Alcoholism or Drug AddictionThe Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked
Video Clip on Addiction Relapse Prevention Strategies
Phase 3, Later Drug And Alcohol Recovery Period
In the later phase of addiction recovery, people strive to make changes in ongoing issues that have continued to block or inhibit life satisfaction. This is the arrival at a ‘happy, joyous and free’ place in life. Choices are made according to a sound and newly developed sense of. Ethics, morality and purpose. This is a phase of personal growth and movement forward in life. The following items are best left to a later time in recovery unless a particular item is so prevalent in damaging it prevents sustain recovery or precipitates consistent relapses. Items worked on include:
- Identifying and changing self-sabotaging and self-defeating behaviors. Many addicts and alcoholics have identified the fact that their drug and alcohol relapse was preceded by a. Time where everything was going really well. Their life was just peaches and cream. And then, boom they sabotaged it. It is critical to identify these self sabotaging and self-defeating behaviors and work out strategies to handle them. These are generally keep seated issues and a person will need help in discovering and working through them.
- Examining sources of personality issues. Some people have personality issues which makes it very difficult for them to get sober and stay sober. Examples of these might be narcissism, bigshot-ism, an obsessive personality or a passive personality. Once a period of stability is established a person may take on consciously trying to change some of their personality traits or at least how they present themselves to the world and the people around them.
- Working through family of origin issues. Most people have family of origin issues whether they are mother issues her father issues. There may be even significant trauma or abuse issues from childhood. It may be important to do some work on these issues. These are extremely difficult and deep-seated. It is only recommended that you tackle this was some professional guidance. It is definitely not recommended to tackle these in early recovery because of the relapse potential of not being able to handle uncomfortable emotions in early recovery
The major cause of relapse during phase 3, or the late recovery period, is either the lack of ability to cope and process the emotional stress of unresolved childhood issues or avoiding the need to change one’s lifestyle and personality into one of health and growth.
As was indicated in this article there are many causes of relapse. These can be broken down and correlated to the phase of recovery a person is in. It is important to understand that in each phase of recovery there are certain relapse prevention education items that must be learned and tasks that must be moved through. It is critical to make sure that you are tackling the correct task and lesson which is most appropriate to the phase of recovery you are in. Preventing relapse is an absolute must have skill in order to continue living sober.
Many relapses occur because a person is doing work that is too complex or too emotionally disturbing and cannot be handled by their current level of skills. I used to hate my sponsor for saying this, but he said it all the time – “time takes time”.
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Some Really Good Free Resources
- Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction (Drugabuse.gov) – In my opinion this is the best short read on addiction. I have used the content for many therapy groups and lectures…check it out.
- Substance Us In Women Women and men may face unique issues when it comes to substance use, as a result of both sex and gender.