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Alternatives to Substance Abuse/Relapse Prevention


One-to-one advocacy and support group sessions should provide information that offers an alternative to substance use as part of a safety plan. Tools to integrate substance abuse as a safety issue are available (see Power and Control Wheel for Women’s Substance Abuse, et al.).

Since addiction is marked by relapse, and relapse is often triggered by stress, women in recovery experiencing domestic violence may need additional support. According to Bland (2001), advocates may help recovering battered women develop a safety plan that includes but is not limited to:

  • Identifying who to call for help (e.g., sponsor, counselor, Alcohol/Drug Help Line); forming support systems, knowing about safe meetings
  • Knowing information and education about addiction
  • Removing substances and paraphernalia from the home
  • Recognizing unsafe persons, places, things
  • Understanding how to deal with legal and other problems stemming from addiction (e.g., health, Office of Children’s Services (OCS) involvement, poor nutrition)
  • Assembling paperwork to determine eligibility for assistance or to begin seeking employment, school, housing or other options
  • Knowing how domestic violence can be a relapse issue
  • Understanding physical, emotional, cognitive, environmental and other cues indicative of risk and having a plan to deal with it; recognizing role of stress and craving, having a plan to deal with it
  • Learning how to parent, engaging in relationships, developing sober friendships
  • Knowing when and where to run in a life-threatening situation that puts her sobriety and safety at risk

Consult with your local chemical dependency treatment provider, the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault or the Alcohol/Drug Help Line Domestic Violence Outreach Project for additional tips to address both alternatives to substance abuse and relapse prevention.

Getting Safe and Sober: Real Tools You Can Use
©Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 2005