Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT)

It is understood that relapse is more likely to occur if certain high-risk actions or behaviors are in place and the coping skills (as well as strategies to implement them) are not being utilized. Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) is based on addressing these high risk situations as well as the development of coping mechanisms in order to better prevent the possibility of an actual relapse itself.

In looking at high risk situations, Relapse Prevention Therapy includes two main categories:

  • Coping Skills – thought processes
  • Behavioral Actions – responses or reactions to lifestyle, environment, etc.

Identifying Relapse Possibilities

When beginning relapse therapy, it’s important for everyone involved to understand the prevalence of relapse possibilities. The therapist and the client discuss how high risk related situations could directly contribute to putting the client in a danger zone for relapsing.

In the initial assessment, the therapist may begin by having the client describe and examine what their life actually looks like in action:

  • Where do they go?
  • Who are their friends?
  • Is their dealer’s number still in their phone?
  • Is paraphernalia still within easy reach?

The therapist also guides the client to look at far more subtle events or experiences that might accumulate and after a period of time could lead to the client to using without the client even consciously realizing how they may have arrived at such a place.

These are ways clients may set themselves up, self-sabotage by way of lifestyle, seemingly innocuous activities – (e.g., overworking which is creating a constant feeling of pressure and stress).

Perhaps the client has no healthy, pleasurable outlet or they haven’t returned to doing the things they enjoyed doing previous to their addiction so they don’t have “anything going on.”

The client might be listening to the same music they listened to when they were trapped in their addiction and that could subconsciously create and promote a vulnerability to relapse.

The therapist has an opportunity to help the client see those in depth pieces and find ways to build working strategies that are realistic to the client’s life.

The therapist also helps the client examine emotional areas where there may be an inclination to gravitate toward using, such as helping the client recognize anger, anxiety, boredom, depression, or even celebratory types of feelings. It’s important to note if there is a desire to use when those feelings come up.

The therapist guides the client in learning that it’s not only a matter of identifying with the feelings, it’s finding coping skills to be utilized and the steps taken after identifying the feelings which can directly contribute to preventing a relapse.

Learning Relapse Prevention Coping Skills

After learning to identify relapse possibilities, the therapist helps the client formulate and implement new coping skills and strategies in high risk situations. This is an imperative component, and critical to Relapse Prevention Therapy’s success as a viable therapeutic modality.

One effective behavioral coping mechanism RP utilizes includes learning how to leave an uncomfortable situation, be it a location where drugs or alcohol are present, to walking away from an emotionally charged environment.

The client who is able to negotiate their way through these high risk situations and issues with effective coping skills has a far greater opportunity to continue being abstinent.

In the continuation of their abstinence they build a sense of self-sufficiency, which directly contributes to the client’s continuation of abstinence, spiraling upward in this case.

With recognition of high risk situations and effective coping mechanisms in place, Relapse Prevention Therapy can add to our client’s ability to return to the world and their actual environment.

With a plan for how to avoid, and work through those tender places, where high risk situations present themselves, we are there to guide them to recognize and learn to have the tools they will need to work through them.

When they leave Alo House, we want to ensure our client’s have the best opportunity to continue on their path of well being and wholeness and we believe Relapse Prevention can be a branch in the tree of their life of recovering.

Learn about other treatment therapies used at Alo House.