As a professional working with clients who are overcoming addiction, you likely understand the chance of relapses occurring and the effect this setback may have on your patient’s long-term success. Often, when relapse occurs, the recovery plan needs to be adjusted to ensure the same mistake is not made again. There are various techniques you can use when implementing these changes to help your patient overcome this obstacle and continue with their success.

Identify the Cause

To learn from and move past a relapse, understanding the situation that led to the relapse is essential. Many patients fear identifying the cause of relapse. However, this recognition is the most useful piece of information moving forward. Encouraging your patient to open their mind to the potential causes and reflecting on them can greatly impact their chance of long-term success.

When a patient experiences a relapse, it is important to communicate this setback with them. Together, you can develop an understanding of the factors that led to the relapse occurring. By discussing these factors, you can help identify the cause. In some situations, you might identify multiple causes. Knowing what potentially caused a relapse and coming up with prevention strategies for similar occurrences in the future can help you adjust your patient’s recovery plan to help them be successful.

It is important to address new triggers that arise and help your patient develop coping skills that can be applied within these situations. As your patient experiences more situations that may affect their recovery process, they can continue improving by applying skills to these situations, therefore becoming more adaptable.

Focus on Adaptivity

There can always be new points of concern that arise throughout the remainder of your patient’s sober life. While you can do your best to address as many potential situations as possible, it is impossible to cover every potential scenario. Figuring out how to adapt and apply coping methods to future problems is often one of the most efficient skills a patient can gain in recovery.

One skill that can greatly benefit adaptivity is the ability to recognize potential signs of relapse in various situations. Often, the signs of relapse coming into play are hard to single out and observe. Reviewing the common signs of relapse with your patient can help them understand these warning signs and improve their knowledge on the matter.

Being able to adapt to new situations and apply the skills they have learned in multiple scenarios can help each technique they gain to be more versatile. Teaching coping skills in recovery can be easy; however, teaching the proper way to implement the skill in unexpected situations is an entirely different obstacle. Helping your patient become more adaptive and allowing them to practice their skills in a life-like scenario can better prepare them for future obstacles that may arise.

Access High-Risk Situations

Assessment may be done before a relapse occurs. However, it can be beneficial to reiterate this assessment each time relapse occurs. You can have your patient list out any factor or scenario they can think of that may greatly influence their chance to engage in substance use again. Next, have them write down plans for what they will do when they encounter each of these factors or situations to avoid relapse. When your client takes the time to reflect on these possible scenarios, they can understand how they can apply their recovery skills to different situations that may arise in the future.

If you have completed this risk assessment before a relapse, it may be necessary to re-evaluate the listed situations and the planned prevention strategies. If a scenario occurred that is similar to one that has already been addressed, you may need to adjust the action plan to avoid substance use, as the prior plan was not effective. If you are dealing with a new scenario, you could add it to the list and come up with a plan for similar situations.

Encourage Motivation

When a patient experiences a relapse, they are often met with various negative emotions that take a toll on their confidence in their ability to maintain sobriety. Having a conversation with them about the relapse and explaining what a relapse is can help them further understand their situation.

Many patients assume that relapse is equivalent to failure when in reality, a relapse is a small setback that can push them toward future success. Help your patient to see how they can use their relapse as a learning experience and gain the necessary skills to move forward from it. As stressful as relapses can be, they can be rewarding in the long run if handled appropriately.

By helping your patient understand this aspect of relapsing, they can avoid feeling down on themselves. Do what you can to help keep them motivated during this recovery period and give them the necessary support to move forward.

Relapse is often part of the recovery process. When patients experience a relapse, many of them feel as if they have failed and are unable to recover. As a professional, you can help re-establish their recovery plan and make the necessary adjustments to prevent future relapses. Keeping your patients motivated during this time is incredibly important. Helping them understand that a relapse does not mean they have failed and using this setback as a learning experience can go a long way in their long-term recovery success. Outlining potential future endeavors that may arise can help your patient understand how to use their skills adaptively to feel more comfortable when addressing high-risk situations in the future. Minor changes and high encouragement may be what’s needed to keep them on the path to success. To learn more about making changes when a patient relapses, contact Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960.

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