What Does Relapse Prevention Education Consist Of?

relapse prevention

There are a number of approaches to addiction recovery, consisting of a diverse variety of therapies and treatments that make up inpatient and outpatient program curricula. The breadth of treatment options available allows individuals to work with addiction counselors to create a personalized addiction recovery plan so that each individual’s specific needs can be addressed. Since alcohol and drug addiction can cause diverse effects—physical, psychological, emotional, social, developmental, spiritual, and so on—it’s important for each of the effects of addiction to be treated in order for an addict to achieve optimum success in recovery.

With the variety of therapies and treatments that are available, there are seemingly endless combinations of therapies that can comprise a treatment or recovery plan. However, more often than not an addict’s recovery begins with a period of detox that’s followed by the primary treatment, which is typically an inpatient or residential treatment program, but can also be one of a variety of intensive outpatient programs that are also available. The basis of much recovery consists of counseling that’s built upon the tenets of cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT. This is a type of psychotherapy that seeks to identify unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors, teaching individuals healthier coping mechanisms in place of the harmful ones.

Another part of rehabilitative treatment is what’s referred to as relapse prevention. Relapse is defined as a point at which an individual becomes dysfunctional in recovery, reverting to their previously addictive behaviors. Though typically used to describe a broad aspect of addiction recovery, relapse prevention is an essential part of recovery and tends to be included at all stages of the rehabilitation process.

Defining Relapsing Prevention

The specifics of a relapse prevention education will vary to a degree from one rehab to the next, but there are many characteristic similarities that distinguish relapse prevention as a form of preventative treatment. In its simplest definition, relapse prevention is a form of copying-focused psychoeducation that involves the teaching of individuals who are in recovery to recognize and identify the warning signs of a relapse, helping them how to manage warning signs to minimize or prevent the possibility of relapse. Although relapse prevention education is important for all individuals who are in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, in cases where the intensity of relapse prevention education is based on an individual’s level of risk, more of an emphasis is placed on relapse prevention for those individuals who have shown evidence of inability to maintain sobriety, likely due to having a history of treatment and relapse.

Relapse prevention education is a very direct way of helping individuals to treat some of the most significant problems posed by alcohol and drug addiction. Individuals who are addicted and physically dependent on alcohol and drugs have what’s referred to as an addictive preoccupation, which means that an addict’s thinking patterns are increasingly altered as his or her disease progresses, causing frequent thoughts and physical cravings for alcohol and drugs. This addictive preoccupation causes an altered worldview and perception of reality, resulting in the belief that continued use of drugs is preferable to discontinued use of drugs despite the negative consequences that result from substance abuse. Relapse prevention uses things like social consequences—loss of employment, financially instability, damage to important relationships—and the potential for physical and psychological dependency on alcohol and drugs to result in criminal behavior as strong motivators for continued abstinence and for the continued prevention of relapse.

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The Components of Relapse Prevention Education

Relapse prevention education refers to the rather broad objectives. There are many factors that can cause or contribute to an individual’s relapse back to alcohol and drug addiction. However, it’s the goal of relapse prevention education to minimize the risk so that addicts in recovery can stabilize and fortify their sobriety. Often this entails teaching individuals in recovery a variety of skills, strategies, and coping mechanisms that allow them to manage the temptation to use and the stress of daily life without compromising their recovery. It also means teaching individuals what to look for in terms of the warning signs of relapse, which can mean signs that tend to be common of addicts in general or more individual signs such as one’s triggers.

Part of relapse prevention education has to do with an individual’s perceptions of self and his or her emotions. This includes learning how to safeguard from defeatist, pessimistic thinking that can prevent awareness and processing of important emotions like pain and sadness; one of the main triggers for substance abuse is to cover up unpleasant emotions, which is why relapse prevention education teaches individuals how to manage these thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. Additionally, relapse prevention education encourages individuals to separate themselves from the people, places, and circumstances that jeopardize their recovery. This often consists of the social group in which an addict had previously participated in substance abuse with others. Instead, addicts in recovery are taught to both separate from destructive peer groups and establish a social network consisting of those who support and encourage one’s recovery and continued abstinence.

Irrational thought and altered thought patterns are considered to be a central contributor to individuals’ sustained addiction as well as for relapse. An essential part of relapse prevention education is identifying these altered and irrational thoughts with which one could justify a relapse, changing mistaken beliefs about oneself, others, and the world so that one’s thought patterns promote healthy, positive decision-making. Further, it’s important for individuals to consider their past with substance abuse, focusing on the negative consequences that have resulted from addiction; according to the tenets of relapse prevention education, as understanding and acceptance of the consequences of addiction increases, the risk of relapse will steadily decrease due to natural aversion to negative consequences.

Learn About Recovery and Relapse Prevention Today

If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, believe in the reality of a future free of substance abuse. At Recovery Hub, our recovery specialists have helped countless individuals turn their dream of being free from physical and psychological dependence on chemical substances into a reality. Don’t wait—call Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352.

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