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When addiction treatment concludes, how do addicts stay clean and stick to the new, healthy lifestyle they fought so hard for? The fact of the matter is, temptation will emerge, and relapse triggers will be experienced. Long-term sobriety starts and ends with an addict’s ability to identify and manage triggers before they evolve into full-blown relapse.

The skills to effectively address triggers must be learned during the recovery process in relapse prevention therapy.

Developed by Dr. Terence Gorski, a distinguished expert on recovery and relapse prevention, the Gorski Relapse Prevention Plan is built on the belief that knowing triggers can help a person prevent a relapse from occurring altogether.

If you’re ready to get help for your substance use disorder, or you know someone who would benefit from addiction rehab, it’s imperative that you seek a treatment program that provides relapse prevention therapy. The approach can help addicts design a plan to identify and manage their unique relapse warning signs – which can develop automatically and unconsciously after rehab.

Discover the benefits of the Gorski Relapse Prevention Approach by learning about the nine steps:

Step 1: Stabilization

Step one should only start after an addict has trudged through several days of detoxification. This is because a relapse prevention plan should only be developed from a sober mind. Stabilization is about steadying the addict’s mind and body first. Once an addict is stable and manifests a clear, coherent state, therapy can proceed.

According to Dr. Gorski, step one is to be taken slow and focused solely on the basics. Simple questions – such as, What do you need to do to not drink or take a pill today? – may be asked of an addict.

Step 2: Assessment

The assessment step digs deep and evaluates an addict’s behavioral and usage patterns. In total, the assessment stage looks at:

• Present issues
• Drug and alcohol use history
• Recovery relapse history

After a thorough review of an addict’s life as it relates to the addiction, a comprehensive assessment is produced and highlights repeating patterns and problems. Any life events, triggers or pain associated with or caused by problems and past relapses will be addressed in the assessment, as well.

Step 3: Relapse Education

Relapse prevention therapy picks up in step three, as an addict becomes more engaged in the learning process. Family members and twelve-step sponsors can get involved at this point if it’s deemed advantageous for the addict’s recovery plan.

Relapse education emphasizes four main messages:

1. Relapse is a common occurrence and a natural part of recovery. In essence, relapse does not mean one has failed or is weak. There is nothing to be ashamed about.
2. Recovering addicts are not suddenly high or drunk again. There is a gradual pattern of warning signs that prompt substance use. This message stresses that warning signs can be identified when sober.
3. Once warning signs are identified, they can be managed.
4. Hope is evident. Relapse prevention therapy can help prevent relapse by teaching recovering addicts how to recognize and manage warning signs.

Step 4: Warning Sign Identification

Relapse can only be prevented if one knows the root cause(s) of substance abuse. Warning sign identification helps recovering addicts pinpoint what issues or situations can lead, or have previously led, to relapse.

This stage helps an addict see that there could be more than one warning sign, and it’s vital that all warning signs and triggers are determined so an addict does not experience a misstep and return to their addictive habits.

Step 5: Warning Sign Management

Once all warning signs and triggers are acknowledged, step five seeks to teach recovering addicts how to manage each sign without turning to drugs or alcohol for escape. Each warning sign will typically have its own management plan. Step five works to ensure a recovering addict feels confident with each warning sign and its corresponding management strategy.

Step 6: Recovery Planning

Step six runs parallel with the twelve-step program. During the recovery planning phase, recovering addicts start a schedule of activities that provides consistent meetings with people who will help them refrain from using drugs and alcohol. The twelve-step program and relapse prevention support groups are highly encouraged, as these systems continue the teachings and management of relapse warning signs.

Step 7: Inventory Training

Inventory training can be thought of as mindful preparation and reflection. Typically done once in the morning and once in the evening, recovering addicts get in the habit of:

• Preparing to identify and manage warning signs (morning)
• Reflecting on how the day went, and what, if any, warning sign issues emerged (evening)

Inventory training is crucial work because most warning signs and triggers are deep rooted patterns that usually return when specific stressors appear. Inventory training helps recovering addicts remain sharp and vigilant.

Step 8: Family Involvement

The more positive support and encouragement recovering addicts receive from family and friends, the greater the chance of continued sobriety. When family gets involved and begins to learn about their loved one’s warning signs, triggers and causes of past relapses, everyone is on the same page and can move forward with a cohesive plan to avoid future relapses.

Step 9: Follow-Up

A recovering addict’s ability to manage warning signs of one stage of recovery doesn’t mean they will be able to identify and know how to manage warning signs in the next stage of recovery.

Because warning signs change as recovery progresses, a recovering addict’s relapse prevention plan should be regularly reviewed and updated – monthly for the first three months, quarterly for the first two years and annually thereafter.

The Gorski Relapse Prevention Approach at Covenant Hills

Along with helping addicts restructure their mind and establish a healthy lifestyle, addiction treatment must assist in identifying and managing triggers that can cause a recovering addict to relapse. At Covenant Hills Treatment Center, we guide each client through relapse prevention therapy and help them identify their stage of recovery and establish a sound relapse prevention plan.

Learn how the Gorski Relapse Prevention Therapy at Covenant Hills can help you or your loved one put addiction behind them and evade relapse. Contact us for a free and confidential assessment.