Relapse Counseling and Relapse Prevention for Marin County
Achieving sobriety is the most difficult pursuit many of us ever undertake. Maintaining sobriety and relapse prevention is often an unpleasant part of this undertaking. Relapse counseling offers a systematic approach to maintaining sobriety by addressing core issues, directly promoting a path to sobriety, as well as acknowledging and avoiding triggers or relapses.
Many times, will power or moral fortitude is not sufficient to maintain sobriety. Relapse counseling promotes positive behavioral change and employs many important counseling techniques in the most critical initial 30-90 days of sobriety. Changing habits and instituting safeguards with the help of a licensed addiction therapist insures a successful path to recovery.
It takes time and effort to change acquired habits, yet with a strong desire or conviction any person can achieve sobriety. Various statistics report a very high percentage of people attempting sobriety will fail (relapse), and this speaks to the difficulty of the task. There is no magic procedure to accomplish this task yet there are a variety of behavioral “tricks”, which makes the process easier. The concept of will power or internal strength is often suggested as a resource yet in truth we are able to make our own luck, enhance our will power and make the difficult choices which promotes sobriety.
- 90% of recovering addicts relapse
- Interpersonal relationships cause the most severe cravings
- Family participation doubles rehab success
- Alcohol is the most medically damaging of all drugs
To establish a successful plan for recovery, it is necessary to address the inception of addiction. Most people start using during the teen years when peer pressure and insecurity can influence major life decisions. Simply by hanging out with certain friends, an adolescent gains acceptance and is initiated into the adult world. They became smarter, older, stronger, prettier, more socially adept and no longer isolated. Initially the substance works and brings about relief and approval. For some, this experimental stage is short lived and a desire or need to escalate is experienced. The occasional becomes a daily ritual, and the “one or two” becomes using to obliteration. A habit is established and dependence is now the norm. Describing the situation and determining core issues is of value but cessation, abstinence and avoiding relapse is the initial goal.
People, places and things become the common road to abuse. Associating with people who are prior “using friends” is a dangerous habit, one not easily broken. It is unrealistic to change all one’s friends, although there are friends who do not always use and are safer. Going to bars, concerts and clubs are activities which are reminders of the past and typically contrary to changing behavior. As the saying goes, “if you hang around a barber shop you’ll eventually get a haircut”.Discovering compromises and alternatives to attend a party and experience live music is possible in recovery. Every individual has a different perspective on things they associate with abuse. Typically money and relationships are quite common. Relapses do not happen suddenly and typically have warning signs that we can ignore or notice. As an example, going to a bar to watch a football game is in itself not a bad thing yet the pleasure receptor has been awakened and the likelihood of using is closer. Taking a risk such as this is an obvious step towards relapse. Yet if we are honest with ourselves, there are more subtle warning signs which proceed the relapse.
Common Triggers or Warning Signs Leading to Relapse
- Stopping medications on one’s own or against the advice of medical professionals
- Hanging around old drinking haunts and drug using friends – slippery places
- Isolating – not attending meetings – not using the telephone for support
- Keeping alcohol, drugs, and paraphernalia around the house for any reason
- Obsessive thinking about using drugs or drinking
- Failing to follow ones treatment plan – quitting therapy – skipping doctors appointments
- Feeling overconfident – that you no longer need support
- Relationship difficulties – ongoing serious conflicts – a spouse who still uses
- Setting unrealistic goals – perfectionism – being too hard on ourselves
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns, personal hygiene, or energy levels
- Feeling overwhelmed – confused – useless – stressed out
- Constant boredom – irritability – lack of routine and structure in life
- Sudden changes in psychiatric symptoms
- Dwelling on resentments and past hurts – anger – unresolved conflicts
- Avoidance – refusing to deal with personal issues and other problems of daily living
- Engaging in obsessive behaviors – workaholism – gambling – sexual excess and acting out
- Major life changes – loss – grief – trauma – painful emotions – new found wealth
- Ignoring relapse warning signs and triggers