What is Relapse Prevention?

Relapse describes the process where a former addict now in recovery chooses to revert back to his or her addictive behaviour. The process of relapse is complicated and often triggered by an assortment of complex emotional and psychological triggers. In fact, the psychological act of relapse precedes the physical act of relapse. Relapse begins as an unconscious act on behalf of the recovered addict and one which is difficult to avoid in the absence of learned coping strategies and/or professional support.

Many professionals believe after residential rehabilitation, a comprehensive relapse prevention plan is the most important component of drug and/or alcohol addiction treatment.

As you return home you may be returning to a negative atmosphere and social circle that are still abusing substances. So, remembering all the coping skills, outcome expectations and how to manage lifestyle factors and cravings you learnt during rehabilitation is crucial.

When relapse is likely to occur a number of changes in the recovered addict’s behaviour will take place. The first step towards relapse has been termed emotional relapse.

Early Signs of Relapse

It is very important to be aware of the early signs of relapse because the sooner you notice and act, the better. Signs of emotional relapse include:
Early Signs of Relapse

  • Detrimental changes in eating habits
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Exhaustion
  • Emotional isolation

Our clients are taught during residential rehabilitation how to look out for the above signs. This allows our clients to take early action and so prevent relapse from developing.

There are also a number of common triggers our clients are taught to be aware of as well:

  • Boredom
  • Stress, from money or relationship issues
  • Specific places or people
  • Specific sights or smells
  • Ease of falling back into old habits
  • Extreme emotions, particularly anger


Contact Us

94 Queen's Promenade, Blackpool, FY2 9NS, Blackpool, FY2 9NS

Landline: 01253 847 553

Email: info@oceanrecoverycentre.com

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Our Relapse Prevention Plan

At Ocean Recovery we take considerable pride when it comes to our relapse prevention record. Our clients’ relapse rate is much lower than the rehabilitation industry averages.

Notwithstanding our stellar relapse prevention record, some of our clients will invariably relapse upon their return to normal life. Relapse occurs in spite of the many hours our therapists and medical staff devote to each rehabilitation programme. Relapse is an ever-present risk for all those in recovery for the remainder of their life.

Our relapse prevention programme thus builds in safeguards to prevent relapse from occurring in the first place and importantly in ensuring a firm process is in place should relapse occur.

A key element of relapse prevention is learning how to identify when you are entering a high-risk situation. And then implementing the coping skills you learn during residential rehabilitation which increases your self-efficiency and thus decreasing the probability of relapse.

But if you feel unable to resist the urges of relapse alone, our clients leave our residential rehabilitation centre with full access to an after-care support team.

This support team acts as the first point of contact should relapse occur or you feel overwhelmed with the temptation to relapse. A helpline is provided to our clients. Relapse prevention supplements which are learnt during residential rehabilitation aim to ensure recovery is as uninterrupted as possible. This is inclusive with each of our 28-day treatment packages.

How to help a loved one that has relapsed?

If someone you love has returned from residential rehabilitation and you believe they have relapsed it is important to not become disheartened. There are also a number of things you can do to help them.

How to help a loved one that has relapsed

  • Do not dismiss or ignore your suspicions but you MUST approach them calmly and with support.
  • During their treatment, they will have identified their triggers. Ask them if they are comfortable sharing them with you so you can support them.
  • Encourage them to engage with our aftercare team.
  • Avoid enabling behaviours or co-dependency.
  • Remember to practise empathy.
  • Remember no one is perfect. Make sure you hold them to an achievable standard.

There are also a number of support groups for the family of drug and/or alcohol addicts.

Relapse Progression

If an emotional relapse is not dealt with appropriately a process is known as mental relapse will take place. During a mental relapse, the recovered addict becomes ever more conscious of his or her desire to continue with addictive behaviour.

Often the individual will reason the addiction will be more manageable ‘this time around’. If advice is not sought swiftly the consequences could be life-threatening as the addiction returns and old levels of tolerance are no longer present.

This is why our relapse prevention plan is designed to be implemented in daily life so the need to use is halted as soon as possible.

There are also a number of signs to be aware of at the stage too, which your friends and family should also be conscious of:

  • A slip – It could take place at a party or other social event and could be taking a sip of alcohol during a toast or ‘just tonight because it’s [someone’s] birthday’. From an outside perspective, this could be seen as fine, but it is a slippery slope and the person in recovery’s tolerance will now be much lower.
  • Borrowing money – But never having new items or being secretive about what the money is for.
  • Missing items – Are high-value items from the home now missing? They may have been sold for the money.
  • Being overly defensive – When asked about recent behaviour or action do you become very defensive or deny concern.
  • Sudden mood swings – Or are you being very impulsive in ways particularly out of character.
  • Avoiding outpatient meetings – Distancing yourself from your professional support team.

Call on 01253 847 553 today

The relapse prevention plan you receive will be fully tailored to your needs. This plan will be set out upon leaving our rehabilitation centre. You are able to read about our after-care programme here which details relevant facts accounted for in an after-care and relapse prevention plan.

To learn more about our relapse prevention plan at Ocean Recovery call today on 01253 847 553. Our residential rehabilitation centre is based in Blackpool in the North West of England. Alternatively, you are able to contact our centre by filling in the enquiry form.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: February 2, 2024

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.

Dr Adel Ghaly

    Dr Adel Ghaly - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: December 11, 2023

    MB BCh, Psychological Medicine (Substance Misuse Psychiatry) from 2002

    Dr Adel Ghaly is a registered Doctor who is a specialist psychiatrist. Dr Ghaly gained an MB BCh in 1982 from Assiut University and has since become a substance misuse specialist and psychiatrist. After gaining his qualification in Psychological Medicine (Substance Misuse Psychiatry) in 2002, Dr Ghaly has worked in hospitals and as a specialist trainer recognised by the GMC.