Relapse in Addiction
Relapse is a common term heard throughout the addiction recovery community, for good reason. The word ‘relapse’ is a heavy word, one that requires a great deal of attention. Relapse in addiction can be deadly and there is a much to be understood about relapse. We will discuss some of the most common questions related to relapse and in further detail with the goal of shedding some light on this topic.
What is Relapse?
In addiction, relapse is generally considered to be the return of substance use after a period of abstinence.
The Facts About Relapse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 40 to 60 percent of persons suffering from addiction will relapse. If an individual relapses, does that mean treatment has failed? No, it does not. Due to the chronic nature of the disease, which addiction is, relapse is not only possible but it is even likely to occur.
The rates of relapse for people with addiction and other substance use disorders are similar to relapse rates for other well-understood chronic medical illnesses including hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. The treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors. Relapsing back into the use of drugs or alcohol indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted.
The risk for relapse can vary from person to person and can depend on the substance used. For instance, the rate of relapse for opiate addiction can be greater for an individual. Relapse rates for other substances can vary greatly. Mental illness can also significantly increase the risk of addiction relapse if left untreated. The presence of a mental disorder along with addiction is known as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. In the case of dual diagnosis, it is crucial that the patient receive specialized treatment to address both conditions simultaneously.
Can Relapse be Prevented?
Preventing relapse is not easy, but it is possible. Addiction rehab programs will typically work with clients to teach them about relapse prevention, which provides tools and skills for the individual to use when faced with possible relapse. The best thing for a person in recovery to do when it comes to relapse it to be as prepared as possible, this includes:
- Knowing your triggers
- Avoiding people and places that make you want to use
- Having a support system to help you avoid triggers
What are Relapse Triggers?
A trigger is any form of stimuli that initiates the desire to engage in addictive behavior. Throughout a recovery program, triggers may prompt an individual to engage in the use of substances again. Possible triggers include:
- Unrealistic expectations of recovery
- Feelings of self pity
- Expecting too much of others
- Negative emotions including fear, anger, frustration, guilt, anxiety, depression, and loneliness
- Taking recovery for granted
- Abusing other substances
- Social pressures
- Exposure to drugs or alcohol
- Friends, locations or events that remind the addict of using
- Seeing or sensing an object of addiction (needles, beer bottles, etc.)
What are the Warning Signs of Relapse?
There are situations that can make relapse more likely. Losing a loved one, conflict, health problems, change in marital status, boredom, and major financial changes can also be triggers for relapse. It is important to be aware of the signs of relapse, which include:
- Spending time with people from the days when they previously used substances
- Changes in hygiene, appetite, or sleep
- Overconfident attitude
- Sudden changes in routine and irresponsible behaviors
At A New Start, Inc., we place emphasis in our treatment program on relapse prevention for each of our clients. Our team of therapists work with clients to help them identify triggers and situations that could be potentially dangerous for relapse. The therapists also teach them about the stages of relapse and how to identify the warning signs. Recognizing early signs of relapse and learning coping skills will aid clients in their long term recovery. To learn more about addiction rehab services available at A New Start, Inc., please contact us today at 1.844.TALK.ANS.