At Discovery Transitions in Los Angeles, we believe that recovery is a continuing process and that it is our responsibility to provide the tools to not just get clean and sober but also to remain clean and sober by developing effective rehabilitation services that are life-changing. Relapse prevention is a vital tool for maintaining the benefits of treatment and avoiding the pain of repeating the fatal cycle of addiction.
Relapse generally occurs when the fundamentals of addiction therapy are forgotten or have become a lesser priority as the addict or alcoholic begins to feel better. Recovery is about approaching the world and its people—and one’s own self—from an entirely different perspective. If the recovering person loses sight of their new recovery perspective and reverts to “old thinking,” a drink or a drug is the likely outcome. The thought that “I deserve it,” or “I can handle it now” can re-assert itself in spite of massive evidence to the contrary. The term relapse is defined as returning to a previous state. At Discovery Transitions, it is our goal and objective to enhance effective relapse prevention skills needed for success.
Relapse Prevention Therapy
As you know, there is no cure for the chronic disease of addiction. Therefore, occasional reoccurrences of symptoms are common. Relapse prevention therapy provides tools for recognizing the signs of relapse and implementing appropriate preventative strategies. Counselors and loved ones will usually recognize the shift in attitude before the “slip” actually occurs. The goal of relapse prevention therapy is to minimize the frequency and severity of the symptoms of addiction.
The Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington has provided excellent material on Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), incorporating cognitive-behavioral techniques and mindfulness meditation to prevent relapse.
The following information on the primary goals of MBRP is directly from their published guidelines:
- Increase awareness of triggers
- Develop skills for coping with cravings
- Become more familiar with patterns of the mind and how it relates to relapse
- Changing our relationship to discomfort, learning to recognize challenging emotional and physical experiences and responding to them in skillful ways.
- Foster a nonjudgmental, compassionate approach toward ourselves and our experiences.
- Learn to stay present with and respond differently to all experience (stress, anxiety, depression, craving), rather than react in harmful ways.
- Build a lifestyle that supports both mindfulness practice and recovery.
Common signs of potential relapse include:
- Dissatisfaction with how things are going
- Anger and resentment
- A tendency to blame others for the ongoing conflict
- A lack of gratitude
- Impulsiveness (with unsatisfactory outcomes)
Depression, anxiety, and hopelessness generally follow unhealthy behaviors leading to relapse. On the other hand, some people leave treatment and everything seems to be going well. As a result, they feel cured and—absent any of the above symptoms—find themselves at a party or event where alcohol or drugs are available. The consequences of relapse don’t come to mind. Then, the first drink or drug initiates the entire cycle that brought them to treatment in the first place.
Staying sober in the protected environment of rehab is relatively easy. At Discovery Transitions, we want to ensure that you have the skills to maintain long-term sobriety outside of rehab. Our relapse prevention program will help you gradually change self-defeating behavior. When you leave our Los Angeles area based outpatient rehabilitation program, we want you to be prepared to lead a lifestyle that supports your well-being and your recovery.