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  • Writer's pictureAkira Kirkpatrick

September Is National Recovery Month: Relapse Prevention & The Road To Recovery

September was dubbed National Recovery Month in 1989 in order to promote new recovery practices as well as support established practices, service providers, and the community itself. This September, I wanted to shine a light on the cycle of recovery and more specifically, on relapse and relapse prevention.

It is a common misconception that relapse means that someone has been unsuccessful or failed in their recovery journey. However, that is quite the opposite. Relapse can be a part of recovery and does not equate to failure. About 40% - 60% of individuals in treatment for substance abuse relapse; and up to 85% of individuals relapse within their first year of recovery. This does not mean they do not go on to maintain abstinence in recovery from substance abuse.

Substance abuse recovery follows the five steps of the Transtheoretical Model:

  1. Precontemplation - the first step in recovery, this is where individuals are still not ready to commit to making changes in their lives like addiction treatment programs and services.

  2. Contemplation - the second step in recovery, this is where individuals may be opening up to seeing the benefits and making the changes necessary to getting addiction treatment.

  3. Preparation - the third step in recovery where individuals begin to make steps towards sobriety through change in their lifestyle.

  4. Action - the fourth step is where individuals commit to change and take action towards recovery (usually through the use of professional help and addiction treatment programs).

  5. Maintenance - the fifth step in recovery is where individuals work to sustain the changes made and prevent relapse (may be using H.A.L.T as discussed below).

H.A.L.T. Stands for "Hunger, Anger, Lonely, Tired" - These are some of the most common areas where stressors can occur for those in recovery that can lead to relapse. By doing self check-ins periodically, a person can do "maintenance" to remedy feelings of hunger, anger, loneliness, and fatigue in regards to their sobriety.

Relapse can happen at any point in an individuals recovery journey, at any step in this model, as it can be a part of the road to recovery.

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