It is reported that 60 percent of people who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction will experience a relapse at some point during their life. This statistic brings fear to alcoholics/ addicts, and their families alike, but there is a lot of preventative information and support available. Becoming educated on warning signs, behavioral patterns, and preventative options is the best thing an addict and their support can engage in. This will help the family understand the tools given to the addict in treatment, and the addict a chance to secure and utilize these tools before a relapse occurs.
So how can relapses be prevented? Prevention needs to start early, and before temptation presents itself. It is suggested to get a comprehensive prevention plan put into place, looking at three main areas: emotional triggers, positive coping skills, and social interactions. As we have learned, recovery is near to impossible without an active support network surrounding the addict. This is also the first preventative tool to be secured in relapse prevention. The next thing to look out for is warning signs. The relapse often occurs some time before the addict slips and consumes alcohol and/ or drugs. Being able to detect changes in the addict’s behavior before they completely slip can prevent the slip all together. The addict’s family and support need information on risks and risky behaviors to identify the relapse behavior as it begins. They also need to practice and implement assertiveness with the addict, so when it comes time to address this behavior it is received as positive criticism not shaming.
In some cases relapse occurs suddenly, if the alcoholic/ addicts get themselves into a bad emotional or social situation. If the addict is experiencing any situations like this in their life, pay extra attention and provide more support than normal:
- Social pressures or conflicts
- Change in marital status
- Health issues
- Loss of a loved one
- Change in employment
- Major financial changes
- Boredom or becoming stagnant in life
It comes down to the realization that you can’t control anyone or any situation, all you can do is practice these preventative measures in relation to an addict and their sobriety. It is recommended that the family also seek support, and find encouragement to help them execute the addict’s relapse prevention plan successfully.