Crafting a Prevention Plan
While on an alcohol-free journey, it’s not uncommon to experience a “slip,” especially in the beginning. A “slip” is simply using alcohol again after a sustained period of being alcohol-free. Folks call these events all sorts of things—relapses, “fall forwards,” etc.—but we’re all talking about the same thing. Whatever you call this lapse, and whatever framework you approach living alcohol-free from, know that anyone can benefit from creating a concrete plan to avoid another slip in the future.
A Prevention Plan is a detailed, written plan of action to avoid a return to alcohol use, and to course-correct if a slip has occurred. This plan is an excellent hardcopy resource to help support you on your alcohol-free path, and consists of detailed resources, coping mechanisms, trusted people, and plans to stay dry. It can help you identify triggers, identify risk signs for slip, know who to reach out to, build effective self-care practices, and create a full life in alcohol-free living. These are incredibly personal documents; no two Prevention Plans will look the same. This should also be a living document that is edited often as your path evolves.
To write a Prevention Plan, it is helpful to first list the triggers - events, locations, people, sensory experiences (tastes, smells, weather, and so on), emotional states - that may challenge your choice to remove alcohol from your life. This often includes certain social encounters, old groups of friends, stressful work or home situations, locations associated with past drinking, etc. Identifying these triggers gives us the power to then identify how we can cope with them in healthy and productive ways.