Relapse can be a dangerous and devastating event. As with many illnesses, prevention is always better than treatment. Relapse can begin to develop weeks or even months before the eventual event. Anyone at risk or relapse must, at all times, be aware of their emotional and physical state in order to maintain the strength necessary to combat relapse triggers. There are many factors that must be taken into consideration in order to prevent any unwanted relapses into unhealthy behaviors.
One of the first, and major, lessons in which any rehabilitation or detox center will coach its patients is the development of positive coping techniques. This can vary between individuals and depend on the addiction and illness being treated, but the primary systems are the development of a safe and secure group of friends and family that can be relied upon to aid and assist the individual if they are in need of reassurance and consolation, including the support his or her clean lifestyle. It is also important to maintain regular contact with some form of professional regarding alcohol and drug abuse. This could mean attending anonymous support groups for addiction or maintaining a line of communication with a member of a rehabilitation or detox center. One of the main causes of relapse is a lack of proper support and encouragement in maintaining sobriety so it is vital that the individual regularly engage and interact on a social level with trusted and supportive people or groups.
Another critical factor in relapse prevention is gaining a deep understanding of the self in order to understand individual triggers that may lead to a relapse into alcohol and drug abuse. The individual must be aware of their emotional and physical health, especially in times of stress. The individual must also become aware of their initial reasons for their drug and alcohol abuse, be it an escape, peer pressure or boredom, and take measures to ensure that these triggers do not take control once more. For many, sobriety can be a daily struggle and relapse does not always occur with a single temptation.