The Role of Stress Management in a Relapse Prevention Plan

A relapse prevention plan is what separates your newfound sobriety from falling back into old habits. Ask any recovering addict and they’ll be the first to tell you that relapse prevention plans are not just recommended, they are essential. Because let’s face it, the things in life that made us want to use in the past, be it stress, anxiety, unresolved emotional issues etc all still exist. Our personal issues and demons never go away entirely. What changes through our recovery efforts is how we react and deal with the things that use to set us off.

One of the most common causes of relapses and therefore an essential piece of a relapse prevention plan is stress. A study done by the Journal of Addictive Behaviors found that recovering addicts who didn’t know how or were unable to effectively cope with stress were much more likely to give in to their cravings for alcohol and drugs than those who practiced effective stress management. So, if it’s that simple, how can we all improve our responses to stress?

Stress Management Tips For Successful Relapse Prevention

Tip One - Acknowledge the fact that you are stressed and deal with the uncomfortable feelings when they arise, rather than letting them fester and build up. The study done by the Journal of Addictive Behaviors found that people who attempted to work through their issues had a much greater success rate of maintaining their sobriety than those who avoided them. The study also found that those who tried to avoid their problems had twice as many cravings on a stressful day than those who practiced effective problem-solving techniques to understand and deal with the stress.

Tip Two - Practice the relaxation technique of deep breathing. Feeling stressed out can be overwhelming and make us want to shut down. A common way to calm yourself down is to sit, breathe deeply and focus on nothing but your breath going in and out of your body for several minutes. This stress reduction technique has been effective in many a relapse prevention plan as it calms the mind and allows you to return to the issue at a later time with a more levelheaded perspective. Stress management to addiction recovery. When this practice is utilized, problems are almost never as overwhelming when returned to as they seemed to be in the heat of the moment.

Tip Three - Make sure to engage in activities that make you happy! This may seem overly simple, but doing things that we enjoy has a wonderfully calming effect on us as individuals. This can be anything from exercising, taking your dog to the dog park, volunteering your time, painting, singing, reading- literally anything! If it makes you feel good inside and you get a sense of joy from doing it, chances are it’s also having a positive impact on your stress levels. And really, who doesn’t want engaging in activities that make them happy as a part of their relapse prevention plan?!

Tip Four - Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Studies have shown time and time again that what we put into our bodies absolutely impacts our abilities to effectively manage stress.  Foods that are high in fats and simple sugars can produce a simulated high followed by a crash that leaves us feeling tired, lethargic and unequipped to handle the day’s stresses. Healthy foods like fruits and vegetables give us the energy and alertness we need to handle whatever the day brings us.

Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Florida for women with substance abuse issues. Our team of addiction specialists understands the importance and necessity of relapse prevention plans in maintaining sobriety and we can teach you the tools you’ll need to succeed. If there’s a woman in your life who could benefit from our personalized, structured care, please put her in contact with us today at 1-866-808-7111. We can help her reignite the hope of truly living once again.

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