Relapse Prevention

Anticipating and Preventing Relapse

What Is Emotional Buildup?
Feelings that don’t seem to go away and just keep getting
stronger cause emotional buildup. Sometimes the feelings seem
unbearable. Some feelings that can build are boredom, anxiety,
sexual frustration, irritability, and depression.

Have you experienced a buildup of any of these emotions?

The important step is to take action as soon as you recognize the danger signs.

Which actions might help you prevent relapse?

Consider the actions below the may help prevent relapse:

Calling a counselor
Calling a friend
Taking a day off
Talking to your family
Going to a 12-Step or outside
mutual-help support meeting

-Katie McGrath, M.S.

Thought Stopping Techniques

Thought Stopping Techniques


Thought Stopping

The only way to ensure that a thought won’t lead to a relapse is to stop the thought
before it leads to craving. Stopping the thought when it first begins prevents it from
building into an overpowering craving. It is important to do it as soon as you realize
you are thinking about using.

To start recovery, it is necessary to interrupt the trigger–thought–craving–use
sequence. Thought stopping provides a tool for disrupting the process.
This process is not automatic. You make a choice either to continue thinking about
using (and start on the path toward relapse) or to stop those thoughts.

Thought-Stopping Techniques
Try the techniques described below, and use those that work best for you:

Visualization. Imagine a scene in which you deny the power of
thoughts of use. For example, picture a switch or a lever in your mind.
Imagine yourself actually moving it from ON to OFF to stop the
using thoughts. Have another picture ready to think about in place
of those thoughts.

Relaxation. Feelings of hollowness, heaviness, and cramping in the stomach are
cravings. These often can be relieved by breathing in deeply (filling lungs with air)
and breathing out slowly. Do this three times. You should be able to feel the tightness
leaving your body. Repeat this whenever the feeling returns.

Call someone. Talking to another person provides an outlet for your feelings and
allows you to hear your thinking process. Have phone numbers of supportive,
available people with you always, so you can use them when you need them.

-Katie McGrath, M.S.

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