Living in the grips of addiction can cause you to act in ways you never thought imaginable. It can lead you down a path of isolation and solitude, forcing you to withdraw from everyone and everything that is positive in your life.
As someone living with addiction, your reasoning for personal seclusion may be different than others: from personal embarrassment at where your life has taken you, to anger at those you feel instigated your substance use, to even jealousy directed at those who have overcome their struggles.
Whatever the reasoning, the onset of avoidant behaviors can set the stage for defensive reactions and maladaptive decisions that can erode the progress you’ve made and drive you back towards addiction.
So, if you are experiencing these feelings, or feel as if the path you are on will eventually take you in that direction, what can you do to adjust course and begin moving toward a successful recovery?
While the journey is difficult, achieving health and happiness through substance abstinence is not impossible. It simply requires effort and planning, both of which can be achieved with the guidance of qualified clinicians and the strength of God – your biggest advocate.
Once you’ve decided you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, the first order of business is to get a plan, or more specifically, a relapse prevention plan. Understanding that relapse is a process and not an event is the first step to constructing a plan to avoid the precipitating factors.
The act of relapsing can begin weeks, and sometimes even months, before you make the decision to physically relapse.
Taking the time to construct a comprehensive prevention plan can curb a potential relapse by addressing issues before they grow out of control. While the components of an individualized relapse prevention plan will vary from person to person, the primary points typically hold true.
They can include:
While the goal is to maintain sobriety from the day your recovery begins, the fact is that a majority of people in recovery will experience a relapse at some point.
Understanding this and accepting it as a part of the process and not the beginning of the end is an important concept to overcoming this potential setback.
Taking a tally of the person, places and things that exacerbated your addictive behaviors is paramount to avoiding them in the future. By physically writing down these trigger-inducing situations and scenarios, you can create a material list that can be referenced at any moment in order to maintain your focus and accountability.
The process of recovery can be highly stressful, so preparing to handle that stress in a healthy manner is essential. Identifying viable and proven coping techniques and problem-solving skills can aid in decreasing the potential of a relapse no matter how difficult things get along the way.
The Terry Gorski relapse prevention plan highlights these previously mentioned components, while also honing in on two key goals for relapse-prone individuals:
While these goals may seem obvious, they highlight Gorski’s focus of keeping the process simple in order to minimize unnecessary complications and distractions. This allows you to fully assimilate into the recovery experience, while also feeling invested in the entirety of the recovery journey.
In addition to this approach, Gorki’s relapse prevention plan also recommends implementing an early-intervention component of involving all your significant others. The purpose of this structure is to widen the supportive network around yourself in order to quickly initiate an intervention if a relapse occurs.
While avoidant behaviors can become evident throughout the entire recovery process, they are key indicators that your addiction has taken root and you are in need of a deeper intervention strategy.
Gorski’s second phase of recovery highlights these behavioral tendencies and the importance of identifying their existence in order to properly address them. In this phase of recovery, you are actively working to avoid anything that reminds you of how destructive your behaviors have become.
The pain associated with facing the truth of your addiction forces you to make every effort possible in order to maintain your façade by avoiding or becoming defensive with anyone daring to challenge their maladaptive thought processes.
According to Gorski, the most common symptoms associated with this phase are:
This list is by no means definitive, but it does effectively establish a comprehensive understanding of the potential symptoms displayed by an addicted individual processing the second phase of recovery.
Identifying these symptoms is as important as admitting that the addiction exists in the first place. By accomplishing any of these tasks, you open the door for a conversation to begin regarding your addictive behavioral patterns and the necessity of initiating a recovery plan.
Sometimes beginning the journey is the hardest part of process, and when discussing addiction recovery, admitting that the disease is real is the first step to defeating its destructive grip.
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.
1 Terry Gorski’s Blog. The Phases and Warning Signs of Relapse. Accessed December 22, 2018. https://terrygorski.com/?s=phases+of+relapse.