Module 16: Relapse Prevention

What is a relapse?

Firstly, what we do mean by a relapse?  Straightforwardly, a relapse is anything you do on the internet that is illegal….

….but it might not only be that - a relapse might be anything you know that is wrong or anything you think is dangerous for you.  For example, looking at adult pornography might be legal but you know for yourself it’s wrong – it just feels wrong or it brings you too close to the illegal stuff you used to do.

But bad things – or difficult times – can happen.  The important thing is to be prepared for them.

When’s a relapse more likely?

Firstly, relapses often happen when you’re feeling bad about something.  You might be feeling bored or anxious or depressed or lonely.  And that can be risky – it’s probably been risky in the past – because:

  • You might want to do something exciting which will distract you from those bad feelings or cover them up.
  • Or sometimes when you feel bad about yourself, you might even want to do something bad, almost as if to prove what a bad person you are.

But you understand yourself better than anyone else. Think back to what you learnt in Module 11, ‘Dealing with feelings’ or read it again if you need to.  And just be aware of how things work for you and how they might have worked in the past when you’ve offended.


If you do give in to those bad feelings and end up doing something you know is wrong, you’ll feel worse.

If you stay strong and do the right thing, you’ll feel better.


Secondly, relapses are more likely if you’re still around people who encourage your bad behaviour.  Maybe the people you know – or used to know – online were important to you:

  • It can feel easier to make friends online. 
  • You shared certain interests.


  • These are people with their own problems.
  • And they are a problem to you if they’re encouraging you to do something wrong or illegal.


A relapse usually happens in a number of stages, sometimes in quick succession. Just being aware of how these things can work will give you greater control.  And with self-control and determination, you can stop a relapse even at the very last stage. 


The next section looks at how a relapse might happen.  Then we’ll talk about everything you can do to stop it happening.



0808 1000 900

More info >