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Therapy As A Part of Relapse Prevention

If recovery were simple, the reported 23.5 million Americans who needed treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction a few years ago would be seeking it. Unfortunately, these numbers have continued to rise.

While it is a good thing more people are reaching out for help, it also means more people need help staying sober.

Relapse Prevention is the key to successful recovery from addiction.

There are many steps in the relapse prevention process. Each is necessary to aid a person when they feel as if they are struggling to remain sober.

Taking part in therapy to help you avoid using drugs or alcohol is essential and has positive benefits for you and your loved ones. Keep reading to find out just how therapy can help you succeed with sobriety or keeping clean.

Learn About Relapse

It is a lot easier to conquer something when you understand exactly what it is you are fighting. Therapists can teach you that to relapse, you must have already been in treatment and experienced sobriety.

Also in therapy, you will learn that relapse can be common. Relapse happens for many distinct reasons.

Whatever the reason for relapse, it does not mean you are a bad person. You are a good person fighting a very bad disease. You are not alone. Millions of people know exactly how you feel. In therapy, you can learn specific actions to get you through the tough times.

Learn About You

Therapy is a special time that is devoted to you. You deserve this time. It is rare that you get to focus only on your needs and doing so is important for your recovery.

Learning about why you became addicted is a good start in learning how to avoid relapse. Therapy can help you break the cycle of addiction and keep you from repeating the same behaviors that keep you trapped by addiction.

Find out how your genetics, your biological components, and even your environment play a role in your addiction. Once you learn this, you can make appropriate changes in your life. Your therapist can teach you what you need to do to change when necessary.

Learn Self-Control

Those urges, cravings and out of control feelings can be overwhelming if you are trying to remain sober without assistance from a therapist, along with twelve-step support and sponsorship.

It becomes easier to revert to your old thoughts, feelings, and behaviors if you do not have a plan to help you stay in control of your recovery.

In therapy, you can learn alternatives that can help you overcome the negative thoughts and feelings that tempt you to use drugs or alcohol again. You can be in control of your whole self.

Coping skills are techniques you can learn from your therapist to help you win against temptations, urges, rough days and even rougher nights.

Coping skills can include anything from meditation to painting and exercise. You can work with your therapist to figure out all the right coping skills for your journey through recovery.

Learn Your Small Triggers

If someone were to ask you about your triggers, you could easily tell them the top five or six, which most likely include hanging around the wrong people, fighting with family, lack of money, lack of a job, relationship problems and for some, legal issues.

What you can learn in therapy, however, is that there are small triggers that can lead to larger ones.

Things like getting proper sleep, eating healthy, exercising and spirituality can keep you strong. If you are healthy physically, you can better overcome mental and emotional issues.

With this strength, you can get a respectable job that will lead to more money, avoid fights with family and say no to bad “friends.”  You can also work through any legal issues with the support of an attorney or probation officer that may have appeared during your addiction.

Learn How to Fight

No, this doesn’t mean you will be attending a boxing class to learn how to protect yourself. It means you will learn conflict resolution and the proper way to argue so you can better protect yourself.

Sometimes you can put yourself in a safe position just by knowing how to relate to others, especially in times where you disagree. Before sobriety, you may have jumped into a fist fight without hesitation because your addiction told you to go for it.

With the help of a therapist, you can learn how to fight fair and how to fight sober. This means learning to listen, communicate and show respect to those who want to fight. There are specific steps you can take to create an ideal ending to any fight.

Anger management is a coping skill that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Learn to Love

For so long, you have only shown love to your addiction. You have had to spend so much time searching and then surviving, that you haven’t truly learned to love yourself and others.

Learning to love can happen with the help of a therapist. Loving yourself means being taught to forgive yourself, recognize your strengths and talents, and believe that you deserve a great life.

Learning to love others can happen once you begin loving yourself. You want to be able to offer your best self to the people you love.

In therapy, you can learn how to love yourself. Your therapist can teach you steps you can take to show love to yourself. Small tactics you can implement each day to care for and respect yourself. Once you have the practice of loving yourself, you will be able to truly love others.

Loving yourself means to accept all of your imperfections, as well as your positive qualities. Your self-esteem and confidence are important to recovery and your therapist can help you improve both.

Therapy is crucial at all stages of your recovery. There is not one special time where you should begin therapy. Whether you are still using, just leaving rehab or have been sober for ten years, therapy can be additional support, as well as a bonus for your self-care routine.

I encourage you to begin your journey and self-discovery in therapy today! 

All the best always.


Chris Massman is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Agoura Hills, CA. She graduated Phillips Graduate Institute with a Master of Arts in Psychology in 2014 and received her Chemical Dependency Specialty in 2014. Today, she practices Congnitive-behavioral therapy to help individuals, couples, and families identify and overcome a variety of unique challenges.