This series of posts is drawn from my day job experience and has been reworked from information to do with a relapse in mental health specifically. However I perceive alcohol dependence, or substance misuse, as a mental health issue so it is as relevant as any other information I have come across.
Relapse prevention is a practical approach designed to help you learn a wide range of strategies to help reduce the risk of having a relapse, so for me, that means drinking again.
Before a person relapses there is a period of time when a number of different things may start to go wrong and if you can alter the way you think and behave during this time you can prevent a relapse. By enhancing coping strategies you can do more of what you know that already helps and less of what doesn’t. This in combination with learning new relapse prevention skills usually works best.
What I’m going to do is talk about my:
- Early warning signs or ‘relapse signatures’
- Coping strategy enhancement
- Life events that might trigger a relapse
- Relapse prevention plan
Why is a relapse prevention approach important?
- To help you understand and feel more in control
- To help to reduce the risk of you relapsing in the future
- To help you feel less depressed and more hopeful about what the future may hold
The impact of a relapse is not to be underestimated as it may:
- Leave you feeling demoralised, thinking ‘is it worth it?’
- You may feel stigmatised – that the people around you think less of you
- You may think it means that you have ‘failed’
- It may stop you taking part in, or you may withdraw from, the activities and communities that you would usually use to help you
- It may leave you feeling distressed
- It may also impact on your relationships with family and friends
I would regularly make deals and ‘rules’ with myself about how and when I would and would not drink. I would then feel, think and do many of the things listed above when I broke my own ‘rules’. How ’bout you?