Relapse Prevention

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Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is one of the most important parts of drug and alcohol rehab aftercare programs. After completing addiction treatment, you may face unexpected challenges and triggers. Seeking help and getting sober is only the first step towards recovery. Although most people have the best intentions of staying sober, accomplishing that isn’t always easy. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 40-60% of people with addiction relapse. However, by taking the suggestions of professionals and adhering to certain measures, you can prevent relapse. 


Everyone in recovery is different and has unique needs. It’s important to work with an addiction specialist to determine what the best approach to treatment is for you. A key component of your treatment plan should be relapse prevention so you are prepared to cope with and manage a sober life in the future. Like other chronic diseases, there is no cure for addiction, but it can be treated effectively. Not sure where to start? Our New Jersey intervention specialists are here to help you find treatment and create a relapse prevention plan. 

How Does Relapse Happen?

For many people, relapse is just another part of recovery. Relapse simply indicates that a person’s treatment or recovery program needs to be re-evaluated and adjusted. The meaning of the term, however, changes from person to person. Some people consider picking up one drink or drug as a relapse, while others refer to relapse as a return to a pattern of drug or alcohol abuse. Here are some of the most common causes of relapse.

Poor Coping Skills

There are many different causes of relapse – some accumulate over time and some may occur instantly. For example, stress is an extremely common trigger that leads many people to relapse. Although everyone feels stress from time to time, people who don’t have a way to cope with stress and let it build up are more susceptible to returning to drug or alcohol use. Furthermore, more than 50% of people who suffer from addiction also experience a mental health condition. Mental illness, when left untreated, can drive people to self-medicate their emotions, and ultimately lead to a dangerous pattern of relapse.

Failure to Complete Treatment

Another reason some people return to their old habits is that they fail to complete their entire treatment program. Leaving rehab against medical advice is never a good idea. After all, therapy and counseling are the sole contributors to new coping mechanisms and life skills that support long-term sobriety. If you choose to leave your treatment program before your clinician thinks you are ready, you may find it hard to stay sober. In fact, the longer you can stay in treatment and take advantage of the resources that rehab has to offer, the better. Studies actually show that people who complete at least 90 days of treatment have significantly lower relapse rates than those who participate in shorter programs.

Lack of Follow-Up Care

Lastly, some people don’t participate in comprehensive aftercare programs or support groups. Recovery isn’t over after rehab – for many, it’s a life long process. Aftercare programs help people make the challenging transition from residential treatment into regular life. These programs are important because the most critical time in recovery is the first few months after treatment – the time that most people who relapse tend to do so. Similarly, support groups hold a special place in recovery programs. Support groups are free and are meant to encourage long-term participation. These groups provide accountability, emotional support, and a sense of belonging that helps people maintain their sobriety. 

How Do I Prevent Relapse?

There is no single, fool-proof way to prevent relapse. However, there are things you can do to protect your sobriety and continue growing as a sober person. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Understanding and knowing how to cope with your triggers and emotions
  • Avoiding high-risk situations in early recovery (i.e. going to a club or party where people are drinking while in early recovery)
  • Surrounding yourself with positive influences who support you and don’t use drugs or alcohol themselves
  • Staying connected to your support group
  • Staying actively involved in a recovery program, 12-Step fellowship, support group or alumni program
  • Eating healthy foods and getting enough exercise
  • Learning how to work through cravings and wait for them to pass
  • Getting involved in new hobbies, activities, or volunteer opportunities
  • Coming up with a detailed relapse prevention plan with the help of an addiction specialist


Recovery isn’t always easy. If you do relapse, it’s important that you aren’t too hard on yourself. Instead, look at your relapse as a learning opportunity. Now, you will know exactly what you did or didn’t do in your recovery so that you can change your behaviors in the future. 

Relapse Prevention in New Jersey

Relapse prevention therapy in New Jersey focuses on limiting and preventing relapses by helping patients anticipate possible situations that may cause a relapse and teach them how to appropriately cope without using drugs or alcohol. This involves identifying triggers, educating patients, and applying these skills to real-world situations. Without this advanced and detailed planning, it might be hard for you to combat cravings and triggers on your own. 


Uncomfortable and unexpected situations will occur in sobriety, so it’s vital that you know how to deal with these events and overcome your difficulties. Our New Jersey addiction intervention specialists can help you throughout every step of your recovery. Before completing treatment, an expert will sit down with you and help you create an actionable plan that prevents relapse. To learn more about relapse prevention counseling, contact New Jersey Addiction Interventions today.

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