Relapse Prevention Skills

Relapse Prevention Skills

All treatments for substance abuse or drug addictions in a way, are intended to prevent relapse. The treatment called Relapse Prevention (RP), however, refers to a specific intervention.

Relapse Prevention is a skills-based, cognitive-behavioral therapy approach that requires patients and their clinicians to identify situations that place the person at greater risk for relapse – both internal experiences and external environmental factors. (e.g., positive thoughts related to substance use or negative thoughts related to sobriety that arise without effort, called “automatic thoughts”).

Then, the patient and professional therapist work to develop strategies, including cognitive and behavioral, to address those specific high-risk situations. With more effective coping, the patient develops increased confidence to handle challenging situations without alcohol and other drugs.

Relapse Prevention Strategies Include:

  • Building awareness around the potential negative consequences of encountering high-risk situations and thoughts
  • Helping the patient to develop and expand their repertoire of coping skills
  • Skills range from techniques to communicate with others when in a risky situation (e.g., how to confidently and comfortably say “no” to a drink if it is offered)
  • Improves self-efficacy