Recovering from an addiction, whether it be substance or drug addiction, can be scary. When we take the courageous leap towards recovery, the future may seem unpredictable, and we may feel very vulnerable. One major fear of many who enter recovery is relapsing. Relapse is defined as the recurrence of a condition that was previously overcome. Relapses are a quite normal part of recovery, and do not mean that the person has failed. However, relapse prevention therapy is often used to help decrease the chances of a person relapsing.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse prevention therapy (RPT) is based on cognitive-behavioral principles and seeks to address the problem of relapse through the development of self-control strategies. Here are several aspects of RPT:
- Exploring the positive and negative consequences of continuing the addictive behavior
- Self-monitoring to identify moments where one is at high-risk for relapse
- Developing strategies to cope with and avoid cravings of the addiction
- Eliminating myths about the “great” effects that addictions bring
- Restructuring perceptions of the person’s view on relapse
- Developing a healthy lifestyle that promotes well-being and positivity
While these are just a few of the components that RPT is comprised of, they are very successful strategies for helping people restructure their thoughts on addiction, recovery, and relapse. While RPT does not promise a relapse-free recovery, it does give people many tools to work with that will help them avoid relapsing. The aspects of RPT are, as mentioned earlier, partly based on cognitive-behavioral principles, which means that the person must be willing to work hard, be vulnerable, honest, and practice their tools daily to maintain sobriety.
The goal of RPT is to help people reframe their recovery as an experience and learning process that involves both errors and setbacks as mastery develops. If we can accept that our recovery is lifelong journey with many experiences, both “good” and “bad”, we are setting ourselves up for a more realistic, approachable beginning.
If you struggle with an addiction, the first step that you need to take is to see a doctor regarding treatment programs. Treatment often includes medication, psychotherapy, and group support. Psychotherapy is where the RPT would be conducted, and could prove to be a very beneficial resource to you. Recovery is possible and there are many people out there waiting to help you begin your journey. Take that step and talk to someone today.
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