Relapse Prevention

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Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. The Mayo Clinic defines substance use disorder as a “disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication.” An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her drug cravings above all else, without regard for consequence. The process of recovering from substance abuse and/ or addiction is not entirely linear and will be somewhat unique to each individual. Though the details that make up each step of one’s recovery will differ from person to person, the treatment process for substance abuse and/ or addiction is usually comprised of detox, some type of formalized substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment, and aftercare. 

What Is A Relapse?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) explains that a relapse is when an individual struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction has gone a period of time without using drugs and/ or alcohol and then returns to using. The process of re-learning how to lead a sober life after an individual has habitually abused drugs and/ or alcohol will be a long-term challenge that requires steadfast commitment. Though relapse is rarely a spur-of-the-moment event, it is not uncommon. When people that are recovering from substance abuse and/ or addiction and experience a relapse, it typically originates as an emotional relapse, a mental relapse, and/ or a physical relapse. For this reason, during any formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program it is common practice for an individual and his or her clinical team to develop a personalized, clear relapse prevention plan to be included in his or her aftercare plan.

Relapse Prevention Plan

The relapse prevention component of an individual’s aftercare plan can be integral to his or her continued success. It is usually a written document that offers a course of action for responding to drug and/ or alcohol cravings and triggers. Most relapse prevention plans will include and expand on the following:

  • Triggers
  • Cravings
  • Healthy tools
  • Recovery program tools
  • Damage control

Depending on the specific needs of the individual, a relapse prevention plan will include a combination of broad suggestions and detailed recommendations that are tailored to the individual to assist in navigating away from the temptation of relapse, when it arises. In order to create an effective relapse prevention plan, it should be developed with the help of one or more qualified substance abuse and/ or mental health professionals.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at

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