Addiction Recovery: Relapse Strategies

Actor Robin Williams spoke on several occasions about the challenges associated with recovering from addiction. Describing the process as “a very powerful example of the daily battles we have,” he admitted “even long-term recovery people can have a life-threatening relapse at any time.”

During a 2006 interview on Good Morning America, Williams spoke about relapsing. “It waits. It lays in wait for the next time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m okay. Then, the next thing you know, it’s not okay. Then you realize, Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland’.”


Fame couldn’t save Robin Williams from the demons of addiction who dogged him but there are relapse prevention methods available for the multitude living in recovery of addiction.

One Day At a Time

Studies show sixty percent of patients coming out of treatment centers relapse in the first three months. These fragile first weeks are considered the period of highest risk for those dealing with addiction.

Going to meetings geared to offer support for your individual type of addiction is the most important step in relapse prevention. Being a member of one of these anonymous groups and learning how to work a daily program of recovery heightens the success rate of recovery and lessens the likelihood of relapsing. Spending time with others battling the same issues and sharing vital resources diminishes feelings of isolation when faced with a potential relapse.

Daily relapse prevention requires engaging in proactive strategies such as taking a personal inventory at the end of each day and learning common relapse symptoms for identifying one if it’s occurring. Symptoms of an impending relapse include an apprehension about one’s personal well-being, denial, compulsive behavior, defensiveness, loneliness, tunnel-vision, minor depression, loss of constructive planning and feelings of hopelessness. Keeping a personal inventory and noting the appearance of relapse symptoms works to create an acute sense of relapse awareness.

A support group sponsor, other recovering people, family members or close friends can help an individual with developing a plan when relapse symptoms appear. Often, others see what those in recovery cannot see for themselves.

Coping While Recovering

Everyday social situations have a way of applying internal pressure on those coping with recovery, so it’s important to understand the behavior chain and devising a plan for slip-ups. Situations where people are engaging in the behavior one is struggling with, conflicts with spouses, parents, and bosses as well as celebratory events are just a few of the social scenarios which can trigger a relapse. This is why preparation can make all the difference.

Making a firm decision about a course of action when engaging in the addictive behavior and who should be contacted for support are the top items to be placed on a slip-up list. Then, work on developing strategies for changing thoughts, feelings and actions when faced with a problem will develop confidence knowing cravings will pass because the right recovery tools have been put in place.

Beginning to recognize one’s individual behavior chain will lead to awareness of symptoms leading to a relapse and allow time to act. Making lists of working, coping mechanisms and keeping them close will help them become habit. Continuing these proactive strategies leads to liberation and paves the way to effective coping success.

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