Addiction Therapy
What is Relapse Prevention?

The main goal of addiction treatment is to prevent future relapse. If an individual who has completed all of the phases of his or her recovery program and ultimately relapses after transitioning back into independent living, he or she will have to start back at square one. Of course there are many other important treatment goals – but without relapse prevention, completing these goals will have all been for naught. This is a cognitive-behavioral approach based on the development of crucial life skills, geared towards helping an individual grasp and implement strategies that will successfully prevent future relapse. There are several things that cause relapse, including internal experiences (unpleasant and unmanageable emotions) and external triggers (spending time in a triggering environment, running into someone who is associated with past substance use). Our relapse prevention techniques vary on a person-to-person basis, and individualized techniques as well as plans of actions are thoroughly developed in an inpatient treatment setting. The client and the clinician work together in assessing potentially high-risk situations and developing viable plans of action should these situations present themselves. Relapse prevention is an absolutely crucial part of every recovery program. At Immersion Recovery Center we begin working with clients on realistic and tangible ways to prevent future relapse from the moment they walk in the door. At Immersion Recovery Center through our relapse prevention program, clients develop effective coping skills, and transition back into independent living feeling confident in their ability to tackle all challenging situations and circumstances.

Relapse Prevention Techniques

During relapse prevention training the individual client works with our team of therapists and clinicians to identify people, places and things that could potentially trigger a return to substance use. Triggers vary, but they will always result in the urge to use or result in a significant psychological craving. One of the main goals of relapse prevention is to reduce the amount of triggers that the client encounters. This can be achieved by committing to necessary lifestyle changes and by learning to effectively cope with negative emotions.

Some common relapse prevention techniques include (but are not limited to):

  • The development of vital coping skills – When challenging situations present themselves, individuals need to employ coping skills in order to get through them without picking up a drink or a drug. These skills range dramatically, but will include things like asking for help when help is needed, effectively communicated needs and current emotional state, saying “no” in social settings where drugs are alcohol are present and switching focus from cravings to healthy and productive activities.
  • Building awareness around what negative consequences could occur if there is a return to substance use – Addiction is a serious mental health condition marked by obsession and compulsion. Those who are suffering from addiction will obsessively focus on their substance of choice, and compulsively use this substance regardless of negative personal consequences. One goal of relapse prevention is to help individuals consider possible consequences before engaging in the compulsive behavior they have become so used to. Reversing old habits is difficult but it can be done – as long as they are replaced with healthy habits.
  • Formulating a solid plan (and a back-up plan) to employ in case of very precarious situations – Having an “emergency” plan is important, because it is not always possible to avoid relapse triggers completely and sometimes unexpected situations arise that can be significantly more triggering than others. For example, if someone who is new to recovery has a loved one pass away, he or she will need to employ an “emergency” plan. In most cases this plan looks similar to a regular relapse prevention plan, but it will be slightly more intense. For example, whereas a regular plan might include calling a sober support on the telephone, an “emergency” plan might include staying the night at someone’s house who has multiple years of sobriety under their belt.

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  • The building of self-esteem and self-confidence – Building up confidence in oneself is crucial to the prevention of relapse. At Immersion Recovery Center we work on facilitating self-esteem through esteemable acts by encouraging our clients to interact with one another in healthy and positive ways. In group therapy sessions, our clients are able to share personal experiences and offer one another advice. We monitor the adverse circumstances that clients face and reward them when they make healthy life choices. Positive reinforcement is extremely beneficial in the maintenance of long-term recovery.
  • Learning specific, proven prevention skills like “playing the tape through.” – At Immersion Recovery Center there are numerous proven relapse prevention techniques that we actively work to instill in our clients. One of these is “playing the tape through,” meaning carefully considering the immediate results of an action and then acknowledging all likely consequences. We teach our clients to consider what events will occur immediately after a relapse occurs. There are numerous other prevention skills that we work to instill such as cognitive restructuring and reversing unhelpful thinking styles.

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Applying Relapse Prevention Techniques

Individual clients have the opportunity to hone these skills once inpatient treatment has come to an end, and apply the skills in real life circumstances as they slowly work towards independent living. At Immersion Recovery Center we offer a multi-phased approach to treatment. The initial phase is medically monitored detox, during which a client is physically stabilized as he or she undergoes the symptoms of withdrawal. Regardless of what substance was being abused or the length or severity of abuse, medical detox is a necessary first step. During medical detox clients are treated for withdrawal symptoms while being slowly introduced to relapse prevention techniques. Clients are introduced to the 12 step methodology and begin working closely with both a therapist and a case manager. When the client is deemed physically stable to move on to the next appropriate level of care, he or she will move on to our inpatient treatment program. During this phase of recovery, what we refer to as the second phase, the client will dive more deeply into relapse prevention, learning techniques and examining personal relapse triggers and any unresolved issues that might increase the propensity for relapse. Once a client has completed the second phase of treatment, he or she moves onto the third phase, which could include a combination of several aftercare programs. In most cases, sober living housing will be recommended. Sober living housing provides a great opportunity to apply learned techniques in a real life setting. Clients are then able to actively employ the relapse prevention strategies they have learned as they move towards more independent living. They will also be able to openly discuss personal triumphs and difficulties in a group setting, which will further facilitate the ability to communicate effectively with others and develop sustainable, interpersonal relationships.

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In conjunction with sober living, clients are required to attend some level of continuous care, whether it be a partial hospitalization program, an intensive outpatient program or an outpatient program. Continuous clinical care will also provide clients with the opportunity to apply learned preventative techniques in the outside world. If you have a history of relapse and are looking for a program that will allow you the opportunity to achieve long-term recovery, look no further. At Immersion Recovery Center we believe that if you give our treatment program your all, it will be your last. Contact us today and speak with a Treatment Advisor 24/7 about your options.

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