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Relapse Prevention Therapy

Relapse Prevention Therapy

RPT is a form of therapy that helps an individual cope with stressors that may cause relapses.

What is Relapse Prevention Therapy?

When dealing with drug or alcohol addiction, relapses are more common than you might think. The detoxification stage of therapy usually deals with the body's physical response and desire for drugs or alcohol. The psychological response is not so easy to detoxify. These urges sometimes push a person to relapse again. That is where relapse prevention therapy (RPT) comes into play.

RPT is a form of therapy that helps an individual cope with stressors that may cause relapses. A relapse refers to drinking alcohol or taking drugs after a period of abstinence. Unfortunately, relapse rates are high for most addictive behavior, which is why this therapy is so important.

Analyzing a Relapse

A relapse occurs after stressors push an individual into self-doubt and the inability to cope with a problem that has occurred. Luckily, there are plenty of warning signs that can help the individual recognize that the stressor is coming, giving them time to mindfully cope with the issue.

In these situations, the recovering individual can go one of two ways. One, the individual can learn to manage and cope with the stressor and warning signs. Each time the recovering individual overcomes a problem, their self confidence will rise and help them overcome the next problem as well. Or two, the recovering individual can fail to recognize the warning signs, refuse to deal well with the situation/stressor, and decide to turn to their previous coping methods — generally, alcohol or drugs.

Learning the RPT process will help recovering individuals successfully beat the stressors that cause relapses. It also helps to develop a plan for those individuals who do relapse to come out of the relapse with minimal damage.

The RPT Process

There are nine steps to help with the RPT process and keep you on track with your sobriety. These areas focus on cognitive therapy, coping skills, and the lifestyle modifications necessary to help the recovering individual stay away from relapses.

1. Stabilization: Joe has successfully completed detoxification and has been sober for three days.

2. Assessment: In meeting with his counselor, Joe performs an assessment and discovers the reasons he started drinking alcohol. In his assessment, he realizes that job stress was causing him to drink uncontrollably.

3. Education: Joe recognizes that he could relapse at any time and he wants to make sure that he does everything possible to avoid this. He understands the process and knows the cause.

4. Recognize Warning Signs: Joe makes a list of all the warning signs that lead up to his trigger. He reviews these whenever he needs reminders or he feels stressed.

5. Warning sign management: Joe has created a plan to deal with the warning signs and he is taking control in managing his life.

6. Recovery Planning: Joe uses the company's Employee Assistance Program to see a counselor who understands work place stressors on a biweekly basis. This way, he is forced to talk through what may be bothering him.

7. Inventory planning: In the morning, Joe makes a plan, and if he has a stressful day ahead of him he mentally prepares for this. In the evening, Joe goes over how he handled his warning signs and stressors.

8. Support system: Joe has surrounded himself with family and friends who support him through those stressful times. He knows that without them he would have difficulty staying on track.

9. Re-evaluate: Once Joe has had a few problems arise with his work stress, he realizes he can handle them and his coping mechanism is strong. He and his counselor look at other areas of his life that are in danger of possible stressors that cause relapses.

In this example, Joe has learned to use RPT to successfully recognize warning signs and cope with stressors that can cause relapses. His self confidence in staying sober has risen to new heights. Working closely with his counselor, he has learned how to stay sober for years.


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