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Making a relapse prevention plan

(Click here for a PDF version of this page)

Identifying Your History of Addiction


The purpose of describing the development of your addiction is to remind you why recovery is important (should your motivation wane) and explain how you came to have an addiction in a way that does not promote shame. Write out the following as an introduction to your recovery and relapse prevention plan:

  1. Addictions and mental health problems in your family of origin (including extended family)
  2. Problems in your home and development while you were growing up
  3. Time line of coping strategies you used growing up (prior to addiction)
  4. How you related to others as you grew up...your role in your family (hero, scapegoat, lost child, etc.)
  5. Beginning and development of your addiction
  6. Your 10 worst moments while acting out
  7. Things you did to try to stop that didn’t work
  8. Non-judgmental summary paragraph about how your addiction came to be

Relapse Prevention Plan

The following areas should be addressed in your recovery plan. Some areas only require that you list items. Others involve planning. For those areas write goals for the next 6 months as well as long term.

Section 1: Bottom Line

  • Ongoing commitment to a 3-fold bottom line (describe)
  • State need for honesty with yourself and others (not only about sex)
  • Your current bottom line: red, yellow, green light behaviors
  • Mood altering behaviors (other than sex) you need to monitor or stop doing

Section 2: Your Addictive System (general themes and current examples)

Section 3: Getting Support

  • Ongoing commitment to 12-step meetings (describe)
  • Sponsorship (having one, being one)
  • Step work (set goals)
  • Support groups for other issues (medical, financial, etc.) including a statement about using them as needed in the future

Section 4: Professional Help

  • Wounds from family of origin you need to address
  • Effects of other traumas
  • Managing current family of origin relationships and other important relationships
  • Social and intimacy skills
  • Emotion-management skills (anger, anxiety, etc.)

Section 5: Ongoing Self Care

  • Vision for your life, including 5 year goals
  • Characteristics you need in living situation
  • Needs/goals for social activities/friends
  • Characteristics important in your career & work
  • Goals for meditation & spirituality
  • Nutrition, exercise, sleep
  • Recreation, hobbies, vacation
  • Holidays, family time
  • In addition to support groups: learning to better face obstacles and solve problems with the help of others

Section 5: Romance/Sexuality

  • Personal sexual/relationship philosophy (purpose and nature of sex, romance, and relationships in general)
  • Who to date, how to date, and when to be sexual
  • Characteristics important in primary relationship
  • Statement about facing problems in primary relationship

Section 6: Ongoing Relapse Prevention

  • Who you will be accountable to, particularly if not attending meetings
  • Budding signs: when to attend more meetings or re-enter therapy
  • When to review this plan: progress keeping it & making changes