No single book or model of relapse prevention can completely portray all the skills required to change all the different types of negative behaviors from over eating to gambling. This book provides a starting point for persons who have abused drugs and alcohol. If you develop positive life skills and implement strategies to achieve a balanced lifestyle you are more likely to succeed in achieving your goals and in overcoming a substance addiction. You will experience fewer lapses, recover from lapses more quickly, and not proceed to full relapse. Evidence shows that lifestyle balance is a critical factor in decreasing the probability of relapse (Marlatt, & Donovan, 2005).
To achieve lifestyle balance, you will need to reduce daily negative stressors and increase daily pleasurable activities so you can experience a balance in your life between daily negatives and daily positives. When you are able to balance negative stressors with positive activities in your life, you will be much less likely to relapse.
What are some of the skills that can be learned to reduce the frequency and impact of negative events or stressors? What skills can help you increase the frequency of positives or pleasurable events?
- Rational thinking skills
- Communication skills
- Physical fitness skills
- Stress management skills
- Time management skills
- Relaxation skills
Individuals who make a concrete plan and who also diligently learn and practice a variety of these skills significantly reduce their risk of relapse. Remember, negative emotional states of anger, depression and anxiety, interpersonal conflict, and exposure to social pressure to use are the most commonly identified high-risk situations for relapse (Marlatt, & Donovan, 2005).
Learning to recognize, acknowledge, and manage anger, depression and anxiety will require you to find resources to assist you. You will need to decide which coping skills are priorities for you. The more coping skills you develop, the lower your probability of experiencing relapse. Increasing self-confidence and ability to use coping skills predicts successful outcomes. The more motivated you are and ready to change, the more likely you are to try and to regularly use a variety of coping skills. This results in an increased probability for success in achieving your life goals and a decrease in your risk of relapse (Marlatt, & Donovan, 2005). You will be working on many fronts to put the odds in your favor.