How to Make an Action Plan for Risky Situations

Relapse Workshop: Action Plans

Estimated watch time: 4 mins 22 secs


When you’re in recovery, you’re inevitably going to face situations that could be risky for you and put you at risk of relapsing.

This video guides you through how to identify high-risk situations so you can avoid them. If you can’t avoid them, you should have a plan in place to exit.

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Accompanying Worksheets:

There are lessons accompanying each video that you can access through our recovery portal, Swell or you can download, here. (Lesson 6)

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Relapse Workshop: Action Plan

In this lesson we’re talking about an action plan. And we’re also going to be working on an escape plan.

So think about risky situations where you might need a plan and you want to identify which of these could be risky for you.

Celebrating holidays with family. Having a fight with your significant other. Being at an office party and networking event or some work related gathering. Being with friends on New Year’s Eve. Receiving a promotion. Being criticized at work. Going to a wedding. Watching a movie or TV show with characters who are using or drinking. Hanging out with friends who still use.

And you want to think about these or any other situations that you have that you think are risky and which of those situations might need adjusting? And you’ll want to complete this in the exercise following this lesson.

Would it be situations at work or people in your work environment, situations at home or people in your home environment, social situations, friends or acquaintances that are in your social circle, family situations? Do you have issues with certain family members that make you more vulnerable to relapse? And holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or certain seasons during the year.

Knowing what these risky situations are is the first step that helps you to stay aware and curious about them.

What do you need to do about them? Well, you want to avoid risky situations as much as you possibly can. And when you can’t avoid them, you want to create a solid relapse recovery plan around them.

The first part of an action plan is to assume you’re at risk to relapse. Dismissing the likelihood of a relapse is dangerous. It’s better to assume you need a safe plan, and you make one in case something comes up.

So you want to role play or practice drug refusal skills with a friend or a therapist. Being able to say “no thank you” when someone offers you drugs and alcohol will help you move along from that portion of the conversation a lot more quickly and easily. You want to decide who will you call if you need assistance and it’s best to plan ahead, so you know who is available for you and who would be able to pick up the phone in case you need them?

Which strategies or tools have you used in the past to successfully ride out a craving to use? What are your distraction techniques? How do you surf the urge? Thinking about those ahead of time so that when cravings show up, what are the three things you can do to distract yourself while you’re waiting for them to pass? Know those ahead of time. Be prepared for that.

If you were in a social situation where other people are using, what will you say if someone offers you drugs and alcohol?

Imagine you decide to relapse. What are the potential negative consequences you would experience? And list all of the ways that you have benefited from sobriety. How you’ve grown, how your life has become more satisfying since you stopped using.

We are much more likely to act in ways that support our recovery if we plan for the high risk situations before they happen. So for each of the high risk situations that you identified, list three places you would go to remove yourself from a danger to your recovery.

Now, if you’re in a work related situation, where could you go?

If you’re at home, where could you go?

If you’re at a social situation, where could you go? And so on.

If you think ahead of time before you go somewhere, where are your exit strategies? Where are the places you could go if things get really bad? You’ll be more likely to act on them.

In the next lesson, we are going to focus on stress.

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