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Relapse prevention plan for Substance Abuse

Relapse prevention plan for Substance Abuse

Last updated on 09 Dec, 2023

The relapse prevention plan is to help every individual in fighting addiction in a planned manner. It can, in fact, help the person in permanent stoppage of substance disorder, securing his life.

Relapse plays an important role in the recovery journey. Substance addiction is a chronic relapsing disease. It is the phase where can person returns to his past of addiction. Addiction Relapse Prevention plans are made to secure and guide an individual toward a healthy life. So, this blog emphasizes helping you make a Relapse prevention plan along with highlighting its merits and demerits.

What Is Relapse?

Relapse is a slow and gradual process. It doesn't occur overnight. It is often seen in three stages- Emotional, physical, and Mental, and can begin weeks to months before you start drinking and using the drug again.

To prevent Relapse, there should be a proper Relapse Prevention Plan. But before that, let us have a better look into the stages of Relapse.

Emotional Relapse:

This is the first stage where you start craving your substance of choice. Once you do not get it, you start experiencing frustration, anxiety, or anger.

Some of the signs that will make you realize that you are going through an emotional relapse are– isolation, poor diet, sleep routine, Intolerance, Mood swings, and bottling up emotions. To prevent emotional relapse, firstly, you need to put forth the following questions to yourself.

  • Are you having fun?

  • Are you escaping?

The more you will question yourself, the more clear vision you will get of yourself. Preventing emotional elapse is to control and understand your emotions.

Mental Relapse:

This stage starts after the emotional phase. In this phase, you start fulfilling your cravings. You are at war with yourself, where simultaneously, you want to get rid of the toxic substances.

Some of the trigger warnings that you are suffering from mental relapse are -

  • The urge to use drugs physically and psychologically.

  • Fantasizing.

  • Lying.

  • Recalling past events.

  • Looking for relapse opportunities.

  • Glamorizing past use.

  • Planning a relapse.

To prevent Mental Relapse, there are certain steps, such as playing the tape through, talking to trusted peers, and using relaxation techniques.

Physical Relapse:

This is the last stage, where your emotion and thoughts start failing. This is the stage where you are into drugs or alcohol again. This stage is the one which can lead you to death. So before reaching out there, you need to realize and consult your health experts (2).

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Relapse Prevention is the proper plan for stopping a person from consuming alcohol or other toxic substance after getting sober. This plan includes many strategies and techniques which work in a specific way to help reduce the risk of Substance Use Disorder. The plans are also used as one of the tools for the Relapse Prevention Plan for Substance Abuse (3).

How To Prevent Relapse- Know Your Triggers

There are certain factors that may trigger your wish or craving for the substance or alcohol more than others. Thus, it is essential to be aware of these triggers. Some of the common relapse triggers are listed below.

  • Bad relationships

  • Withdrawal symptoms

  • Stress

  • Going to places that trigger a memory of the addiction days.

  • Poor self-care

  • Loneliness

  • Peers pressure

What Is The Objective Of An Addiction Relapse Prevention Plan?

The main objective of an Addiction relapse Prevention Plan is to help people to get rid of Addiction. The plan involves a lot of strategies and planning to permanently stop a person from addiction.

The prevention plan's objective is not only to save a person’s life but also to make society a drug-free one. The impact is not limited to individuals but to the whole of society. Addiction is a chronic disease that controls the brain functioning of a person. Addiction is affecting our future resources, dangering the lives of young individuals.

Why Is A Relapse Prevention Plan Essential?

There are certain benefits of the Relapse Prevention Plan. They are:

1. Helping individuals identify early warning signs of relapse.

2. Teaching individuals healthy coping mechanisms.

3. Providing support and accountability.

4. Helping individuals develop a network of supportive people(4).

A relapse prevention plan has many advantages for the ones who are recovering from substance Abuse. Relapse reverses the process of recovery from addiction. It can also be life-threatening in some cases. Addiction Relapse Prevention Plan is essential to be properly executed for permanent addiction removal.

How to Create an Addiction Relapse Prevention Plan?


There are certain procedures that need to be followed for creating an Addiction Relapse Prevention Plan. It is an essential part of living in recovery. The steps are listed below:

Time for self-assessment and reflection:

It is the phase where you need to sit down, relax and think deeply about the negative consequences and what made you continue these drugs. It is very essential for one to identify the potential patterns and causes of substance abuse.

Recognizing the triggers and warning signs:

it is an experience of a person or an event that may provoke you to step out of sobriety, which leads back your way to addiction. It is necessary to make a list of triggers so that it becomes easy for you to avoid them.

Planning for the worst:

You should always have a Plan B in your hand. Before getting into a Relapse, make a plan; what if I get into a Relapse? You should discuss with people such as family, friends, and outpatient groups.

Involving others and sharing with them:

Involving others and sharing is one of the keys to the recovery process. Recovery is a long-lasting challenge. Support groups or any member that you want to involve in or that you are comfortable with is a necessary step while planning for a Relapse Prevention Plan.

There are different types of support groups and interventions available to help individuals prevent relapse and maintain sobriety. One popular type of support group is 12 Steps Program, which has been shown to be effective in preventing relapse and promoting long-term recovery

Setting Goals for a Healthy Lifestyle:

A very important aspect of a Relapse Prevention Plan is setting a goal. Setting a goal for a healthy lifestyle weekly, monthly, or forever helps you to be motivated to achieve your goal (5).


Besides being prescribed for sleep disorders and cognition enhancement, Nootropics also help in addiction recovery. These medications indirectly help as an adjunctive treatment along with other relapse prevention treatments. The urge to use the substances while on a relapse prevention plan is made dormant by Nootropics such as Modalert. Modalert helps to relay a sense of motivation to stay sober and aid co-occurring disorders like mood swings, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and tiredness.

Physicians advise patients with addiction to purchase Modalert tablets to prevent relapse by enhancing motivation. Choosing online pharmacies such as HealthMatter allows users to get the Nootropic without a prescription.

Creating a plan is easy, but executing it properly is a tough call. But with a strong willpower, you can do anything.

The Five Rules of Recovery

These relapse prevention strategies were curated by Steven M. Melemis and were published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM) in 2015. It is based on his personal experience of working with patients for 30 years.

The rules listed below will help patients understand that recovery is not complicated or beyond their control.

Make changes in your life

It involves creating a life that makes it easier for patients not to get back to using the old substances, When such patients do not change their lifestyle, then the factors that contribute to their addiction catch up with them.

Things patients should change are-

  • Going to revisit people or places associated with their addiction.

  • Changing the negative thinking pattern.

Be Completely Honest

The process of misusing a drug requires continuous lying. Such people lie about getting their drug, denying the consequences, and hiding it. Clinical experiences show that when such people are lying and are not being completely honest, it is a sign of emotional relapse.

Ask for Help

When you feel the urge to get back to using drugs or alcohol, do not try to fix such emotions on your own. But ask for help. There are many self-help groups that you can choose from-

  • 12-step recovery group.

  • Non-12-step recovery program.

  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA).

  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

The benefits of participating in such a group not only help you with relapse but also have these additional benefits.

  • It helps such people feel they are not alone in this battle of recovery.

  • They learn what the inner voice of addiction and relapse sounds like from fellow peers.

  • It helps people learn about the recovery journey of others.

  • It is often a safe place for addicts where there are no judgments.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of addiction recovery. Studies show that mind-body relaxation helps in reducing the use of alcohol and drugs. In long-term use, it also is effective in preventing relapse.

So, how do they help?

  • It helps in managing stress, which is one of the major causes of relapse.

  • Such techniques help in letting go of negative thoughts.

  • It helps such patients be kind to themselves and their bodies.

Don't Bend the Rules

After recovery, there are people who often do not fully acknowledge the extent of their addiction. Such people find it hard to live a life without using these substances and compounds. They often find ways to get back to using the compound or alcohol.

Addiction Relapse Prevention Objective: the key takeaway

Recovery from an alcohol and drug addiction may be long and challenging. The possibility of relapsing is also high. Thus, getting professional help is important to prevent relapse.

Relapse is a process in which a person again gets into his intoxicating habit. The realization of different stages of Relapse is very necessary ( emotional, mental, and physical) for better results.

Proper execution of the Addiction Relapse Prevention plan is necessary. There are different types of Relapse Prevention Plans. One example of the Relapse Prevention Plan is the Alcohol Relapse Prevention Plan which helps to create a drug-free society for the betterment of our near future.


Risks of relapsing are possibly high in individuals with a severe addiction, co-occurring psychotic disorders, low motivation, and self-control. Such addicts should opt for routine consultation after addiction treatment.

Internal triggers are feelings and emotions within the patient that can cause relapse, which may vary from individual to individual. Common internal triggers are Anxiety, Sadness, Boredom, Loneliness, and Tiredness.

Coping strategies are strong self-control to manage internal and external relapsing triggers. Addiction treatment facilities teach coping skills for a successful recovery.

Relapsing is a process that occurs gradually. It can differ from person to person; some might experience it within a week; for others, it might take months.

The main aim is to help individuals to get rid of addiction or cessation of problematic behaviors.

Therapy and skill development, medications, and monitoring are the three most common approaches to Relapse Prevention.

The three types of Relapses are:

1. Emotional Relapse

2. Mental Relapse

3. Physical Relapse

Principles of Relapse include:

1. Identifying high-risk solutions.

2. Developing appropriate solutions.

Behavioral therapies are the best suggested for Relapse.


  1. Relapse Alcohol and Drug Foundation,
  2. What are the stages of Relapse, metaaddictiontreatment.
  3. What is a Relapse Prevention Plan, verywellmind
  4. Substance Abuse Relapse Prevention Plan, cascobayrecovery
  5. 5 key components of a Relapse Prevention Plan,novarecoverycenter


Disclaimer: We do not provide any medical advice.

The contents of HealthMatter are for informational purpose only and is taken by a thorough evaluation of research papers and Journals. We do not provide professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. We advise all readers to consult a physician before consuming any medication mentioned on the website.