Relapse Prevention

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:

  1. Early warning signs or ‘relapse signatures’
  2. Coping strategy enhancement
  3. Life events that might trigger a relapse
  4. 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?

14 thoughts on “Relapse Prevention

  1. Think this is really helpful and I plan to actually note it down and make my own relapse prevention plan. I have actually had a relapse recently and it has left me feeling just awful. I am now AF for a week again and I really do need to work through what happened – where?, who?, why?, what? I can attest to how quickly you get sucked back into the dark hole. Keep blogging – you inspire me so much and help more than you can know xxxx

  2. I echo what Kim has said. The past 10 days have seen me wavering badly. I think I know what the trigger is, but I don’t think I have good enough coping/prevention strategies yet in place. So really looking forward to reading your future posts.

    1. Hi Jude. I’m hoping that it provides some helpful strategies for you too then 🙂 Stopping drinking isn’t the hard bit – it’s staying stopped that I struggle with too xx

      1. Like lots of things really – just think of losing weight – it’s maintaining the weight loss which is the hardest thing. Or starting at the gym – that’s the easy bit, it is keeping going to the bloody place 🙂

      2. Thank you so much Jude for the sponsorship 🙂 I am going to try and do it in under 1 hour and will be posting up a picture of my ugly mug after the event so you know I’ve completed it! xx

  3. Great info! Thank you Lucy! I always add that you have to be wary of the happy times too! The first time I felt like celebrating a big event, my mouth was watering and my mind went in overdrive! Crazy but I never thought that happiness could be a trigger too, but I drank for any reason, so it can all be a trigger!

    Great post, thank you!

    1. Hi Maggie 🙂 Oh yes the happy times were worse triggers for me than the sad times so thanks for the reminder! You’re welcome x

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