Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Relapse prevention

Introducing the Pierini DIET here

Years ago I had – in hindsight - the wonderful opportunity to participate in an alcohol and addiction program to support a relative who was suffering from drug addiction. This year-long program included weekly family sessions for relatives. During these weekly family nights, we listened to lectures, viewed instructional videos and participated in group discussions with other family members and the alcoholics and addicts.

Something I learned that year was “relapse". Previously I had understood relapse to be – in the case of the alcoholic or addict - the taking of their drug of choice be it alcohol or whatever. What I eventually learned, however, is that relapse is not the specific act by the alcoholic or addict of abandoning their abstinence and sobriety but all the thoughts and behaviors leading to that abandonment - much like the erratic behaviors of animals before a natural disaster such as an earthquake or severe weather storm.

What I also learned is the necessity for an alcoholic or addict to have and work a relapse prevention program. Release prevention is a strategy to train alcohol and other drug abusers to cope more effectively and to overcome the stressors or triggers in their environments that make them want to abandon their sober lifestyle and abstinence.

Alcoholism and drug addiction, when left untreated or poorly treated, are typified by chronic relapse. Therefore, the prevention of relapse is a critical part of any effective treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

A pioneer in relapse prevention is Terrence Gorski, an internationally recognized expert on substance abuse, mental health, violence and crime. Mr. Gorski’s relapse prevention principles include self-regulation and stabilization, integration of self-assessment, and understanding and relapse education. Each of these could be a separate relapse prevention discussion but that is beyond the scope of today’s blogflection. What’s most important is to understand that – for the alcoholic and addict – relapse is inevitable if one takes no steps to prevent it.

What does all this have to do with fitness, health and wellness? I’m glad you asked.

You see, just like the alcoholic or addict who has to fight and struggle for his or her abstinence and sobriety, so too do many of us with our diet, exercise, fitness, health and wellness.

As we begin a new calendar year in about two weeks, many of us have our minds on New Year resolutions and some may be based on diet, exercise, fitness, health and wellness. As we examine how to improve our lives in these areas, we may be well-served by gaining a better understanding of the principles of relapse prevention.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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