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Relapse Prevention

What should I do when I’m triggered?

Addiction Relapse Prevention Plans for any behavior that you risk of relapse, addictive behaviors to porn, sex, internet addiction, or mental health challenges like depression, suicide, anxiety and past trauma is a must.

No matter what you may be struggling with, creating a relapse prevention plan, will help you find greater success in your recovery.

One of the keys to recovering from addiction is being able to recognize and manage the triggers and avoid your risk of relapse. Collection of ideas for being able to deal with those triggers and prevent a relapse are:

Step 1: Recognize Relapse Triggers

addiction trigger
Triggers can be just like a switch; it turns on, but it’s harder to turn it off.

Individuals in recovery are taught to recognize their triggers and the skills to manage them.

Triggers are like a light switch that can be turned on and off but when it turns on, it’s harder to turn it off.

The first key is to relapse prevention is to recognize the triggers for what they are. The beginning of your plan would be to start practicing recognition first.

What are some of your common triggers?‘

What do you see as a beginning trigger and desire to act out on the negative behavior?

You need to be heighten your awareness and take a close look at your:

  • Situations
  • Environments
  • Decisions
  • Emotions (stress, anger, anxiety, overwhelm, etc.)
  • Habits
  • Mindset
  • Impact of sleep
  • Time with friends

… that you feel in the process. If you are aware, you can usually trace your situation, environment, decision or feeling back to something that was a trigger.

Tracing this emotion back is the beginning of your relapse prevention plan and a huge part of managing triggers. When you can see what it is, to begin with, you will discover the changes you need to make.

Avoid mental relapse, you may be triggering yourself without realizing it.

In the case of being able to recognize what may be causing the triggers is the first part of your plan.

Step 2: Specific Plan For the Trigger

The next step as a relapse prevention intervention would be to have a specific plan in mind for when that specific triggers experienced or you’re seeing relapse warning signs.

relapse prevention
Identify the trigger, and put a plan in place to manage it.

An example would be, You feel triggered when you’re surfing the internet, or when you’re on social media You recognize that these are triggers because you’ve experienced them many times.

As part of your relapse prevention, you followed step 1, you know what the triggers are, and you have a plan in place to be able to address each trigger.

Having a specific plan will have a far-reaching impact; knowing that the trigger sets in motion things that are very powerful inside of your body and your brain.

I know that once I start down that road, it’s tough to come back.

Step 3: Connection

Relapse Prevention Starts with Connection
Preventing a relapse starts with connecting with someone you trust.

Have a list of people that care so you can reach out when you’re feeling down or triggered.

On that list you might have a best friend or a series of close friends or family members who you can call or text with open honesty.

You need to be able to say, ‘I need to talk for a minute. I need a little bit of support right now because I’m having a difficult moment.’

Depending on your openness and your level of trust with that person, you may or may not get into the actual details of why you need some support and are on the risk of relapse.

You could simply reach out and say, ‘Hey I just need someone to talk to for a minute. Can you just hang out, talk on the phone, or get together for a few minutes?’

relapse prevention suggestions
Write down a relapse prevention plan.

Reaching out to somebody close to you who is prepared for that kind of situation would be an excellent thing to do and is a healthy life skill.

Step 4: Have Short Routines

What’s your routine in the morning? As part of your relapse prevention plan, you should have a short morning and evening routines that you run through to help keep you engaged in life.

Another example, ‘Let’s say that every morning when you get out of the shower to get ready for the day, you’re triggered.

If that is a triggering moment, think about some of the steps you can take knowing full well that you will be triggered.

Be mindful and tell yourself, ‘I’m going to shorten my shower. I’m going to get in and get out quickly. I know the longer I remain in the shower, the trigger intensifies.’

We’ve found that clients, spending time lingering on things creates boredom and decreases the effectiveness of maintaining sobriety.

Implement techniques that promote healthy life skills and the ability to manage your fears of relapses.

Step 5: Change Pattern

Make all your efforts to change your daily patterns.

If you know you’ll be triggered, modify the pattern that interrupts this trigger.

For example, Set an appointment that’s going to require that you act quickly’ so that you are not in that environment very long.

Avoid spiraling emotions to avoid emotional relapse. Emotional relapse makes it difficult to think clearly.

addiction relapse
We must learn how to manage our triggers for successful recovery, set specific plans.

Step 6: Have Specific Plan

Mindfulness of having a very specific plan of what you will be doing will help you to keep your mind focused on other things instead of thinking about not slipping.

A specific plan could be, I have an appointment at 7:30. I’ll be on time, whether it’s a phone call or a physical meeting.

I’m going to wake up at 6:45 and eat breakfast. I’m going to set a timer for 5min. I will take 5 min. shower.

I will be on time for the appointment at 7:30.

To restate, when creating a relapse prevention plan, stay mindful and keep your brain engaged, you don’t have a chance to worry about the triggers. You are involved in accomplishing very specific activities.

Any triggers that come, you’re able to manage them more efficiently.Help for extreme cases of addiction, anxiety, and depression, Utah Family Therapy Intensive Outpatient Program in American Fork, UT.


Update to this article below.

Crisis Plan From Client

I talked with a young lady that has been mindful of her situation and created a Crisis Plan for her anxiety and depression. I realized this would be perfect to add to this article, and I thought it was simply amazing and thorough.

Here are the basics of her ‘Crisis Plan’ or in this case also a ‘Suicide Prevention Plan’:

Future Relapse Prevention Outline

Lifestyle actions to stay well:

  • Create a List of Ongoing Items
  • Create Action items

Triggers and Stressors:

Things that put me at emotional risk

  • Behaviors
  • Situations
  • People
  • Places
  • and circumstances that put me at emotional risk

Preventative Behaviors

Actions I will take to avoid my triggers.

Signs of Relapse, Early Warning Signs

What are my behavior signals that show I’m growing more at risk:

  • Thoughts
  • Feelings
  • Behaviors

Coping Skills

Actions I will take to be calm if I develop early warning signs?

If I seem prone to relapse:

  • “When should I call? I will call you in 1 hour.”
  • What others can do to help:
  • What others can say to help:
  • What I will do in a crisis situation
  • Use all coping skill strategies.
  • Clearly communicate to others …
  • Implement Crisis Action Plan

If I have relapsed: (steps others should take)

  • People to contact for help? (Counselors, Doctors, Family, etc.)
  • Actions I agree others may take if I refuse to use coping skills and I am in danger of a relapse.
  • My Treating Health Professionals:
  • Maintenance Medications?
  • Additional care and support?

Each person has their own unique challenges and skills, we would like to help you in your journey of recovery to develop more management skills.

If you need additional support and it’s not an emergency, please contact Utah Family Therapy’s treatment center and learn more tools of relapse prevention, 801.901.0279

Learn more about Utah Family Therapy’s Intensive Outpatient Program for Depression, Anxiety, and OCD.