Relapse prevention

What is relapse prevention?

When people try to change behaviours such as substance misuse they are not always immediately successful. An unsuccessful attempt that ends with the person reverting back to the original behaviour is often called a relapse.

Relapse can be prevented by the person learning more about the situations that are particularly risky and developing strategies for either avoiding these or coping with them. Sometimes people need to make bigger changes in their lives such as finding a new group of friends or getting a different job.

Relapse prevention is the term used in counselling or support work for helping people to increase their coping skills and create a lifestyle which supports their decision to change the substance misuse.

Another element vigilance, watching for key moments where there is a brief ‘slip’ and having a plan that ensures such a slip doesn’t become a full relapse. This can include both changing the way of thinking about such events and developing strategies for getting support at a vulnerable time. It is possible to learn a lot from either a ‘slip’ or a relapse and to use that information to make the next attempt more successful.

For information on training in relapse prevention and management go to our page on relapse prevention courses and training.