Relapse Prevention

Becoming ill

Defining Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is a type of cognitive behavior therapy that is aimed at identifying high-risk situations like substance abuse, OCD, obesity,sex addiction, and thoughts of commiting criminal activity. The main idea behind preventing relapse is to prevent a person from engaging in one of these “high risk” activities. It is one of the most important components of substance and alcohol abuse treatment. It may also be administered on patients who are suffering from non-substance abuse-related issues.

Relapse prevention therapy, however, is based on a very important assumption: that people can alter their behavior and personality towards substance abuse. While this may be tough to achieve, this is not very difficult if it is accompanied by targeted psychotherapy and group therapy.

Most relapse therapies are a part of the rehab plan. However, this therapy may need to be executed as a plan in itself. At times, relapse therapy is not just a “component” of rehab treatment and it may need to be carried out with many stakeholders including family members, friends of the patient and the rehab team. Therapists may also need to take inputs from the group members in case the patient is undergoing group treatment.

Caregivers are probably the most important set of people when it comes to a relapse prevention program. Caregivers are given special training in helping patients deal with such a situation. Caregivers also need to ensure that they manage the patients well enough to not relapse, but at the same time, not micro-manage them close enough to cause discomfort. There are some other types of care offered to the patients like Holistic, Outpatient, Inpatient, Halfway House, 12-Step, Non-12-Step etc. It is upto the preferences and requirements of the patient that which one he wants to opt for.

How Relapse Prevention Can Help

Relapse prevention is an elementary step in achieving substance/non-substance rehabilitation. Relapse is one of the biggest roadblocks in achieving complete addiction rehabilitation. Patients are known to relapse the most during the initial few days of their rehab treatment, therefore, its prevention becomes all the more important in order to keep the motivation of patients intact.

Relapse prevention is one of the best tools to help people endure their condition on their own. Like all other cognitive behavioral methods, it is particularly helpful in enabling the patients to alter their behavioral response towards substance abuse. For instance, a patient of alcoholism may find it particularly tough to resist the temptation of drinking during a social gathering. However, if this patient is being engaged in preventive therapy, he or she would find it relatively easier to cope up with the condition by changing his or her “natural” reaction towards alcohol.

Relapse is a major deterrent in substance abuse treatment and it not only derails the rehab program, but usually catapults the patient into deeper and more dangerous trenches of substance abuse. If carried out correctly, relapse prevention will not only keep the rehab program on track but it also enhances the patient’s motivation, endurance and will power to fight his/her condition and craving for substance abuse.

Patients learn how to recognize early signs and warning of relapse. This enables them to be better prepared to combat urges and sudden cravings. Patients are also taught how to monitor and assess their progress. Most importantly, patients are taught how to cope up with relapse, if it all a relapse happens. This enables the patients to prevent their overall rehab program from falling off-track completely.

Ultimately, the patients begin to understand their own behavioral patterns and learn to manage their mood responses. This makes them feel empowered and they are better equipped to handle their condition as time progresses. Patients develop a sense of self-dependency and become independent towards the end of their relapse management program.


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