Some recovering addicts like to have a plan for reaching their sobriety. Although many people use the 12-step model, there are many people who don’t. The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) was developed by Mary Ellen Copeland and is now widely used around the world. In fact, WRAP is used for not only those with addictions, but also by those who have serious mental illnesses, lifestyle challenges, and experiences of war and other traumas.
WRAP is a recovery plan that an individual creates on his or her own. In fact, research has shown that the best sober living plans are those that are self-created, or at least have a measure of one’s own input when creating treatment plans. WRAP is a means for feeling better when one is not feeling well in their lives. It invites accountability and improves the quality of one’s life.
There are six parts to WRAP with some pre-planning that helps one set up a system of support. WRAP refers to it as a Wellness Toolbox, which includes improving the areas of life that need improving such that a person has all the support he or she needs. For instance, having a Wellness Toolbox means contacting friends and other who will be supportive, participating in drug counseling, engaging in exercises that help one focus on the recovery plan, regularly using relaxation and stress reduction exercises, journaling, making sure to have fun and do creative and life affirming activities, exercising, dieting if needed, and getting a good night’s sleep. Having significant support has also been proven to be necessary to create the best sober living program and prevent relapse.
In fact, one of the 14 principles of effective drug addiction treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is to engage families, employers, friends, and significant others for the best sober living treatment plan. NIDA is a United States research institution whose mission is to bring together science and drug abuse and addiction. They have completed several studies and work together with various organizations to bring the latest information to the table regarding addiction and recovery. NIDA recently published a guide based on research that provides the 14 principles of drug addiction treatment.
After someone has developed their pre-planning Wellness Toolkit, he or she is ready to move to the six major components of WRAP. They are:
- Create a Daily Maintenance Plan. This part of one’s sober living plan includes a clear description of yourself when you are well, a list of Wellness Tools needed on a daily basis in order to maintain wellness and sobriety, and a list of activities to participate in and/or things you might need to do on any given day.
- Identify Triggers. The second part of one’s sober living plan is to identify the triggers that jeopardize sobriety or your sense of well being if they occurred. Triggers might include an argument with a friend or not having the money to pay a large expense. When triggers occur, the next part of WRAP is learning to use Wellness Tools to manage this difficult time.
- Identify Early Warning Signs. Warning signs for relapse are those subtle experiences that let you know you are beginning to feel worse and that you might relapse. For the best sober living and recovery experience it’s important to know yourself well enough to know when you might be a risk for relapse.
- Know What to Do When Things Break Down. This part of WRAP is identify those signs that let you know you are feeling much worse. For instance, you might feel very sad much of the time or you might be hearing voices or you might have strong cravings to drink or use drugs.
- Use Your Crisis Plan. In this part of WRAP you identify those instances when others might need to take over responsibility for your care and decision making. You would identify who that person is in your life, and provide him or her with necessary health care information.
- Post Crisis Plan. After a crisis, this plan invites you to think about what you will need to recover from a major event. This could include taking time off work, spending time with friends or family who care, and resting more.
WRAP was initially designed for those with mental illness. However, today, there are a number of others who use the wellness plan. As mentioned earlier, research indicates that many of the components in this plan can contribute to the best sober living experience.
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