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3 Relapse Prevention Strategies You'll Learn in Addictions Counsellor Courses

Addiction can be isolating

Addiction can be isolating

What is addiction? Essentially, addiction has two main criteria: difficulty controlling use and duration of use of substances such as alcohol or drugs, and the inability to discontinue use, even after negative impact on one’s life, including the impact on relationships.

The challenge for addiction counsellors is to effect change in attitude and perception of the root causes and ensuing obstacles for those suffering from addiction. It is also their task to help individuals get their lives back on a healthy, fulfilling, and productive path.

Addictions counsellor courses can provide you with appropriate skills to assist individuals in modifying their behaviour, by helping them see compulsion as being influenced by something external rather than internal.

If you are passionate about helping others change their damaging behaviour, addictions counselling may be the rewarding and satisfying career you have been searching for.

Assessing Triggers in Your Addictions Counselling Training

It is essential to assess high-risk situations in order to ascertain possible triggers for relapse. These could include such factors as environment stressors and certain personality characteristics that can make an individual vulnerable to addiction.

Additionally, identifying an individual’s coping skills, self-efficacy, and other lifestyle factors is also vital in developing effective relapse prevention strategies.

As part of your addictions counselling training, you will learn how to help individuals create change in their behaviour, such as quitting drinking or smoking, as well as offer guidance when they experience lapses that can lead to relapse.

Addictions Counsellor Training Basics: Relapse Prevention is a Process, Not an Event

Relapse prevention is based on cognitive-behavioural framework and behavioural coping strategies, and is specifically designed to identify high-risk situations where individuals are vulnerable to relapse.

The primary goal of relapse prevention, described as a “tertiary” strategy, is to identify the core problem of relapse and develop appropriate techniques for preventing or managing occurrence.

According to a study published by G. Alan Marlatt and and Katie Witkiewitz, the two specific aims are: “preventing an initial relapse and maintaining abstinence or harm addiction treatment goals, and providing relapse management if a lapse occurs to prevent further relapse.”

During your addictions counsellor courses, you’ll learn that the ultimate goal is to provide individuals struggling with addiction with the skills they’ll need to prevent complete relapse, regardless of the situation or risk factors. Here are a few relapse strategies you might use once you start your career:

Strategy #1: Addictions Counselling Training Teaches Students About Self Control and Coping Skills

Although relapse may be a complex, fluctuating process that cannot always be halted with certain individuals, there are prevention tools to help enable behaviour change.

The first cognitive model of the relapse process was proposed by Marlatt (1978), which showed that “the cognitive-behavior centers on an individual’s response in a high-risk situation, including the interaction between the person (affect, coping, self-efficacy, outcome expectancies) and environment risk factors (social influences, access to substance, cue exposure).”

Treatment begins with the assessment of the potential interpersonal, intrapersonal, environmental, and physiological risks for relapse, as well as factors or situations that precipitate a relapse. Interventions include teaching effective coping strategies, enhancing self-efficacy, and encouraging mastery over successful outcomes.

Strategy #2: You’ll Learn About Lapse Management and Prevention During Your Addictions Counsellor Courses

It is crucial for counsellors to discuss and prepare for lapses, especially with high-risk individuals, including specific interventions and global self-management strategies.

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) has become a notable development for addictive behaviours. The combination of mindfulness and cognitive-behavioural approaches are viewed as potentially effective and cost-efficient compared to other treatments. In contrast to cognitive restructuring strategies, MBRP stresses nonjudgmental attention to thoughts or urges.

Strategy #3: Addictions Counselling Training Teaches the Importance of Medication and Meditation

As you’ll learn during your training, there are a variety of pharmacotherapies, psychotherapies, and other treatments that have been developed. For example, disulfiram (Antabuse) has been effectively used as a behavioural control agent by making an individual have an aversive reaction to drinking alcohol.

This approach attempts to integrate relapse prevention techniques into a psychotherapeutic, rather than a purely psychoeducational approach, in order to enhance the effectiveness of other prevention strategies.

Recent pilot studies were completed at the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington using meditation to treat inmates. Three months following their release from prison, participants demonstrated substantial decreases in alcohol and drug consumption. They were also more optimistic and less prone to recidivism, compared to a case-matched control group.

Ongoing Education for Addictions Counselling Training Graduates

A large component of relapse prevention is education, which includes cognitive restructuring of misperceptions and maladaptive thoughts. Counsellors must challenge the myths related to positive outcome expectancies, discuss the psychological components of substance abuse, and provide opportunities for better choices in high risk situations.

Are you ready to pursue addictions counsellor training in Vancouver, and use all the essential skills you will learn to help individuals better their lives?

Visit Rhodes Wellness College to begin you journey to a rewarding career.