Relapse prevention is an important component of recovery from mental health and/or addiction issues. It involves being aware of, and minimizing high risk situations and things that make you vulnerable in addition to developing additional skills such as mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness skills. The goal in relapse prevention is to help you increase your awareness of the triggers for your problems, identify skills that can help you deal with those triggers, increase your sense of self-efficacy (control) over your recovery and change your view of a relapse from a failure event to a learning tool.
Relapse tells you that, for some reason, the old behaviors/thoughts/feelings were more rewarding than the new ones. It could be that you let things build up until you just couldn't take it anymore, you encountered a situation that was extremely stressful (like a job loss or heart attack), or the things you were doing really weren't helping you feel better and you were “white knuckling it all along.
The key to relapse prevention is to catch the relapse as early as possible (like when you start returning to old ways of thinking or running on autopilot), and to figure out what needs to happen to get back on track.
Relapses are opportunities to learn, but are not required for recovery. Relapses occur when it is less rewarding (or too painful) to continue in recovery. Don't get me wrong, there are days that it totally sucks, but those are just days. There are weeks that it is amazing. Relapse prevention encourages you to become aware of your vulnerabilities and prevent them, identify your relapse warning signs (what you do when you are starting to lose motivation) and your relapse triggers (things that can make you have the urge to use) and develop a plan to not only deal with those, but ALSO to add positive behaviors you do to maintain your motivation, and add triggers in your environment for behaviors and thoughts that make you healthy and happy. In the member resources, there are several different guide books and videos on this topic. In the meantime, click HERE to view one of our videos on the topic.