Relapse Prevention

By Marty Lythgoe, CADC II, NCAC II, ICADC

Like other chronic conditions, addictions of all types are subject to relapse.  It is one thing to stop the addictive behavior; it is another thing to stay stopped.  It is still another thing to stay stopped and at the same time enjoy full physical, psychological, social and spiritual health. Abstinence is the stopping of addictive behavior.  It is the first requirement toward recovery.  It is the beginning.  It is the ticket to get into the theater, not the movie we are going to see.  Recovery is the movie – abstinence plus a return to overall health in all areas of our lives that have been affected by our addiction.

Relapse prevention counseling is aimed at developing skills for long-term recovery. It is directed towards helping people find meaning and purpose in life.  Recovery is a way of thinking, a way of acting and a way of relating to others.  It is a philosophy of living.  It requires daily effort.

Just as there are stages in the progression of addiction, there are also developmental stages in recovery.  Terence Gorski, a pioneer in the field of relapse prevention, says, “To progress through these stages, we must have goals that correspond to the stage of recovery we are in.  To reach our goals, it helps to have an action plan showing us what to do and how to do it.”  Recovery means change.

Relapse prevention counseling is aimed at guiding clients through the changes that recovery brings, identifying the personal pitfalls along the way and developing coping skills to insure optimum success.