Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention (RP)

Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention (RP)
By Terence T. (Terry) GORSKI-CENAPS

April, 2012

 The First Attempt At Recovery – It Doesn’t Have To End In Relapse

 Many people mistakenly believe that relapse is an inevitable part of recovery – but they’re wrong! Relapse can be prevented. It’s as easy adding some special skills to your initial recovery tool kit.

The idea of relapse prevention was controversial and revolutionary in the 1970’s. In 2012, many common relapse prevention tools have proven their value, even for people entering recovery for the first time.

Preventing relapse, of course, has always been a concern to recovering people and those who love them. Over the years, relapse prevention has grown and expanded to include a wide variety of useful recovery tools. Relapse prevention methods have become a widely accepted and effective method. Two mistaken beliefs about relapse prevention, however, persists in the minds of many people. The first is that RP needs to come at the end of initial treatment; and the second is that RP should be reserved only for people who have attempted recovery and returned to addictive use.

This workbook is designed to challenge these mistaken beliefs. It will show how primary recovery skills and relapse prevention skills can be seamlessly brought together. An even better yet, the end product is a quick guide to staying in recovery during the most difficult early days of abstinence. It teaches skills that will help people to start feeling better and improve the quality of their life from the first day. Many people have started start using these exercises during detox and found they really helped.

Most recovering people experience early relapse warning signs and high-risk situations. They don’t know what’s happening or what to do. As a result, they feel powerless and confused. Their stress goes up. They start having craving and using drug seeking behaviors. They get into a spiral of dysfunction and eventually ask themselves the question: “If this is recovery, why bother?” They are so miserable in recovery that addictive use seems like an acceptable choice. This can all happen in the first days of recovery.

This is why so many people benefit from a custom designed package of both primary recovery and relapse prevention that they can use from day one. Many people who get this vital combination, leave  treatment in the first few days. This is tragic, since a focus on primary recovery AND relapse prevention, can help them make it through.

The workbook, Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention, presents a simple and easy to understand set of organized exercise that teach both primary recovery and relapse prevention methods as a seamlessly organized system. It presents a powerful set of skills that can support people through the critical first days of recovery. It’s not magic – to avoid relapse, people need to do the right things right. This workbook shows them how. The choice of doing it is up to them.

The Language of Recovery

Addiction is a complicated illness with physical, psychological, and social and spiritual symptoms. Conversational English doesn’t have language to adequately describes these symptoms. As a result people don’t understand what is happening to them and start to feel crazy and out of control.  Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention defines a basic language of recovery. Nothing fancy – just enough to get started without getting confused.

To take charge of the recovery process takes a plan. This workbook integrates a daily planning process into the review and completion of the exercises. It focuses upon making a simple morning plan, starting the first day you are able to, and doing and evening review. This gives people a daily “to do list” that let’s them put first things first. It shows them how to make recovery and relapse prevention the job Job #1. Stephen Covey, in his book The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, puts it this way: “The main thing, is keeping the main thing, the main thing.” Staying away from alcohol and other drugs and building basic recovery skills – these are the main things.

Learning About What’s Wrong With You

It is important to understand and recognize the symptoms of addiction. Completing this workbook won’t give anyone a Master’s Degree in Addiction Science, but it will point out, in clear and easy-to-understand language, the main things that people need to know early recovery and provides a quick and easy to use self-assessment check-list.

Managing Stress

Managing stress! It’s not a luxury. It is a necessity! High stress without the abioity to manage it is the number cause of relapse in early As your stress goes up – the newly sober brain shuts down. Learning to manage stress lowers the risk of craving and automatic drug seeking behaviors. Stress management is a critical skill for getting through early recovery. So, Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention, explains stress, gives a stress self-monitoring tool, and teaches a easy to use science based deep breathing exercise that is so effective it taught to police officers, combat soldiers, and emergency first responders.

Understanding Post Acute Withdrawal

The brain doesn’t instantly bounce back when people break out of their pattern of addiction. The pleasure chemistry of the gets disrupted and brain keep bouncing back-and-forth like a Ping-Pong ball at a world class Ping-Pong tournament. This is a prolonged period of withdrawal is called post Acute Withdrawal (PAW). The workbook explains the symptoms, what causes them, and some guidelines for managing them. Just knowing that these symptoms occur help people to lower their stress by knowing they are experiencing normal symptoms of recovery.

Managing Denial

Denial is a normal and natural process.  It happens automatically and unconsciously when most people are having serious problems. Just as the human body has an immune system to protect it from dangerous physical organisms, the human mind has a mental immune system to protect it from overwhelming pain and problems. That mental immune system is called a psychological defense system. The workbook describes it as a denial system. The workbook gives a quick users guide to denial and some basic steps for recognizing and managing it. This includes a brief denial management check-list

Craving Management:

In early recovery, people can be overwhelmed by powerful urges to use alcohol or other drugs (craving). A three-part model for understanding craving (Setups, Trigger Events, and The Craving Cycle) is presented. The model is simple, yet effective. It takes denial management into the down to the level of recovery skills that can be taught and learned.

High Risk Situation Check List

The last step on the road to addictive use is a high-risk situation. Recovering people put themselves around people, places, and things where they have no recovery support and addictive use is support and encouraged. A High Risk Situation Checklist is provided as well as a simple set of skills for identifying managing them.

Preparing A Foundation for Lon-term Recovery

Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention then provides a series of skills that prepare people for more in-depth cognitive restructuring as they get through the difficult first weeks and begin moving ahead into building a sober and responsible way of life. The simple two straight-forward skills: recognizing old thoughts, feelings, urges, and actions related to craving, drug-seeking behavior, and addictive use ; and developing new and more effective ways of thinking, feeling, managing urges, and acting in sober and responsible ways.

So, there it is in a nutshell – the core content of my new book: Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention.  I was once told that the smarter we become, the less time it takes to explain the complicated. To fully grasp a set of knowledge, we need to be able to write it on the back of a stage stamp. This workbook isn’t a postage stamp. Back in 1978 the Relapse Prevention Workbook consisted of over two volumes, over 200 pages each. I think this short and easy to use new workbook is easier to understand and far more effective.

A Quick Summary of Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention

  • Develop a Morning Plan
  • Do an Evening Review
  • Understanding Addiction and Its Symptoms
  • Recognizing That I’m Addicted
  • Make The Recovery Decision
  • Recognize Stress
  • Lower Stress
  • Recognize and Stop Denial
  • Recognize and Manage Craving
  • Recognize and Manage High Risk Situations
  • Manage Addictive Thoughts, Feelings, Urges, and Actions
  • Build A Foundation for High Quality Recovery

After completing this workbook under the guidance of a properly trained addiction profession, most recovering people feel confident that that they will be able to do what they need to stay recover. Most addiction professional find that this workbook makes their job much easier.

Best Wishes
Terence T. (Terry) Gorski
April, 2012

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One Response to Starting Recovery With Relapse Prevention (RP)

  1. Hey Terry, this is a great blog site. I look forward to updates. Steve G.

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