Today, the consensus among most mental health professionals is that relapses are often just part of recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 40-60% of people who undergo rehab will experience a relapse.1,2
While this seems discouraging on the surface, a relapse does not necessarily mean that drug and alcohol use disorders are impossible to recover from.1
Other chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and hypertension feature similar relapse rates, as do many other chronic mental health conditions. Yet, we do not usually take these relapses as signs of moral failures or reasons to give up entirely.1,2
As with these other chronic illnesses, there are ongoing benefits to staying the course, even if it does mean you will steer off it, from time to time. Furthermore, there’s evidence to show that relapses become less of a possibility so long as a recovering individual continues treatment.1,2
Not all continuing care or relapse prevention plans are the same, however. There are typically several things a person can do to continually improve their ability to handle their cravings and improve their odds of long-term recovery.
Here are some things you may want to try as part of your relapse prevention plan. Get in touch with our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers to learn more about your options for SUD aftercare in North Texas.
1.) Try Individual Therapy
The standard group therapy sessions and workshops that most recovering individuals go through during and after rehab can do a lot to help you build your resilience and motivation to recover. However, they do have limitations and cannot help you with very specific individual problems. For these, one-on-one psychotherapy tends to be more effective.3,4,5
For substance use disorder, your therapist is most likely to recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy and other related approaches. These sessions will essentially help you reframe how you look at things when you are experiencing cravings and triggers, allowing you to better avoid a relapse.3,4,5
2.) Familiarize Yourself With Your Triggers
Triggers can have a more profound effect if we haven’t figured out what they are. If you don’t take time to go through therapy or to be introspective about your past traumas and emotional states, it may be difficult for you to understand why it is you experience cravings or stress at specific times.3,4,5
Taking time to familiarize yourself with your emotional triggers is not always easy. However, actions like mindfulness meditation, daily journaling, and continuing to attend group and individual therapy sessions can do a lot to help you identify the object, times, situations, and people that set you off. When you have finally identified your triggers, you will find yourself in a much better position to avoid or deal with them, later on.3,4,5
3.) Practice a Healthy Self-care Routine
We all know that daily exercise, eating healthy, engaging in enjoyable hobbies, and socializing with people who are positive influences can go a long way towards enabling a more sustainable recovery from SUD and other mental health conditions. Of course, all these things are easier said than done. People in mental distress can find it difficult to even get started on relatively modest self-care.
However, it’s important to try, no matter how imperfectly for several reasons. These activities can build mental and physical resilience to SUD while providing a useful distraction from cravings. When done consistently, they can speed up the time it takes to fully recover while reducing the odds of relapse.3,4
4.) Continue Working With Your Therapist On a Personalized Strategy
Not everyone will respond positively to the same types of mainstream and supplemental interventions. This makes it important to periodically reassess what’s working and not working and try something else.
People who are undergoing mental distress may often find it hard to get a realistic picture of what’s going on, so they may want to be able to talk to and build a relationship with a qualified mental health professional who could guide them towards a plan that is more likely to work.
5.) Consider Moving Elsewhere
Sometimes, one’s home or work situation is the main contributor to triggers and relapse risks.
While not everyone is privileged enough to be able to just find another job or move to a new neighborhood right away, these actions should always be on the table if one’s job or familiar relationships are exacerbating their mental health.
Alternately, some time off in a place away from triggers or additional time in a special inpatient program may help further reduce the lifetime risk of relapse.
Get Better SUD Aftercare Today
The battle for recovery is not just fought inside the walls of a rehab facility or a support group. Most of it will take place out in the real world. Because most recovering individuals cannot always rely on outside help, this makes it especially important to create a relapse prevention plan that accounts for what your mental state is likely to be.
Getting better SUD aftercare options will not only increase your odds of avoiding relapse but could also help improve your quality of life moving forward. Call our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers at +1(214) 935-2287 to find aftercare options that suit your unique long-term recovery goals.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, July 10). Treatment and Recovery.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, June 3). How effective is drug addiction treatment?.
- Grant, S., Colaiaco, B., Motala, A., Shanman, R., Booth, M., Sorbero, M., & Hempel, S. (2017). Mindfulness-based Relapse Prevention for Substance Use Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of addiction medicine, 11(5), 386–396. https://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0000000000000338
- Melemis, S. M. (2015). Focus: addiction: relapse prevention and the five rules of recovery. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 88(3), 325.
- Marlatt, G. A., & Donovan, D. M. (Eds.). (2005). Relapse prevention: Maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviors. Guilford press.