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Right-Mindfulness based

Relapse Prevention

The aim of this online prevention is to empower individuals with the necessary skills and simple techniques to prevent relapse. To enable individuals to take control of their lives and learn to recognise and step out of automated and conditioned behaviour that lead to relapse. 

What is relapse?  

During the recovery period from substance dependency individuals will frequently experience strong urges and craving, which not only trigger feelings of agitation, fear and anxiety, more importantly, can lead to a relapse, going back to old habits.  

What can cause relapse?  

Cravings, strong urges and desires are the most likely causes that can trigger relapse. All cravings are related to our mind, take place within our mental space, and can be triggered by thoughts, environment, emotional distress, peer pressure or as a result of physical needs.  



Cravings is experienced as a strong desire, wish, thirst, longing or greed that can be either physical or mental.  Craving arises due to the pleasant feelings occasioned by sense experience.

  • Cravings can be for sensual gratification and pleasure – wanting to feel “good” 

  • Cravings can be to remain in a specific state, both mental and emotional state  

  • Cravings can be the desire for something to cease to exist, this could be particular sensations, emotions or thoughts 

  • Cravings are experienced as an “unpleasant” experience 

  • Cravings tend to focus our attention specifically on the object of our craving without any awareness of anything else 

When our experience is unpleasant, our natural reaction is either avoidance or change the experience. It is at this stage that we are vulnerable to fall into relapse by triggering our automatic pilot and repeating habitual behaviour.   
Recognising there is a space between the stimulus and reaction, gives you the opportunity to prevent relapse. Mindfulness intervention can greatly help you both recognise and avoid relapsing.  

Relapse Triggers

This is especially relevant when individuals recovering from substance dependency encounter a stimulus, that can be a feeling, a thought, smell, familiar situation or environment.  The stimulus triggers our mental patterns that operate like an automatic pilot, which one executes in the behaviour and thus relapse. 

Experiences of varying degree of agitation, anxiety, fear, cravings and overwhelming urges can be lead to relapse especially when one encounters triggers. 

Emotional triggers may be feelings of distress, fear or agitation (experienced as painful or unpleasant)

Mental triggers may be when we experience stress, pressures as a result of perceived or real demands

Physically we may crave for a water when our body experiences thirst.  

The main cause of cravings is “feelings”.

Feelings do not refer to the emotions. Instead they can be defined as something like “feeling experience” which can be either:-

  • Pleasant or

  • Unpleasant (painful to endure) or

  • Neutral

Preventing Relapse

Since anxiety, fears, urges are all internal experiences, which means our mind is involved, the only way to resolve them is to transform our mental states in a natural, organic and sustainable manner. 

Pleasant sensations induce in us a craving for their continuation.

Painful feelings induce in us a craving for their cessation.

Neutral sensations induce in us either dull passivity or a craving for pleasant sensations.

It is this move from feeling to craving that is the weak link in the chain, and by becoming aware of the “feeling” experience,  one is empowered to transform cravings that can lead to relapse.


Automatic pilot: “From feeling to cravings”

Automatic pilot is our tendency to react without fully being aware of our actions. When we experience cravings. Cravings are the triggers that often go into automatic pilot, which means, we are driven and compelled to act without any awareness of what is happening and what are the likely consequences.


This automated compulsive behaviour is referred to as “automatic pilot”. Mindfulness practice enables one to step out of the automatic pilot, by raising our awareness of our sensations, thoughts and emotions.

Recovery Process

Recovery from substance abuse is a physical, mental and emotional process. While there is health interventions for detoxifying the body, however, there is very little intervention that help individuals to deal with their mental and emotional states, especially in the very early stages of recovery and when the individual is at their most vulnerable.  

While the body can be detoxified, the mind is still caught in its conditioned behaviour, with the same urges, cravings and desires that lead to substance use. 




Step 1: learn to recognise automatic pilot

Step 2: learn to step out of automatic pilot

Step 3: learn to recognise triggers and cravings – stimulus

Step 4: learn to “be with” the unpleasant experience of cravings – surfing the urge

Step 5: learn to cultivate mental and emotional peace and stability

Step 6: Cultivate personal path

Mental Health intervention

  1. Step 1: learn to recognise automatic pilot
    Body Scan


  2. Step 2: learn to step out of automatic pilot
    SOBER & Body Scan


  3. Step 3: learn to recognise triggers and cravings
    SOBER & Rate my anxiety


  4. Step 4: learn to “be with” the unpleasant experience of cravings
    Sitting with thoughts, emotions and sensations


  5. Step 5: learn to cultivate mental and emotional peace and stability
    Mindfulness of breath

Physical Health Intervention

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