Anyone who has overcome a drug or alcohol addiction understands the ongoing risk of recurrent drug abuse, so it’s not surprising that addiction treatment programs place a strong emphasis on relapse prevention. A return to substance abuse doesn’t occur out of the blue: It’s a process that begins long before a person actually takes a drug or has a drink.
Relapse prevention involves learning how to recognize the warning signs at an early stage and developing coping skills to handle the triggers and stresses that often lead people back to substance use. To learn more, call Drug Treatment Centers Enfield at (860) 207-8338.
A return to drug or alcohol use tends to occur in three distinct stages.
The first stage is known as emotional relapse; during this phase, an individual may not be consciously thinking about using, but certain emotions or behaviors may be setting the stage for substance use in the future. A few factors can lead to this state: Increased stress, poor eating habits and failure to attend support groups and therapy sessions are all possible pitfalls. It’s essential to address these feelings and behaviors early on.
Mental relapse is characterized by ongoing thoughts about using. These thoughts become more urgent and frequent as the addict’s stress progresses. A person in this stage may start spending time with friends who are still using, and they may try to justify their urge to use again. If an individual doesn’t use their coping skills or reach out to a trusted sponsor or therapist, the progression to continued substance abuse is almost inevitable.
A physical relapse is the point when a person in recovery uses a drug or has a drink.
Different substances of abuse have different sobriety failure rates, but the statistics are fairly discouraging across the board. According to the American Bar Association, about 75 percent of recovering alcoholics will suffer a return to substance abuse at some point. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that the number of people who return to drug abuse is similar to that of other conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
All of these diseases, including addiction, are chronic illnesses: They cannot be cured, but they can be managed. The risk of sliding back into addiction after treatment is significant, but many services and resources are available to increase the odds of long-term recovery.
Once a patient has completely withdrawn from a substance and has begun therapy, they are ready to begin learning about relapse prevention. In recovery programs, participants develop a set of coping techniques that will help them long after they leave the treatment center.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be a helpful tool for teaching patients how to prevent a return to substance abuse. Identifying destructive thought patterns and replacing them with positive thoughts can help prevent an emotional relapse from progressing any further; behavioral modifications, including stress reduction techniques and diet and exercise changes, can help recovering individuals stay balanced and avoid the pitfalls that often lead to recurrent drug abuse.
Aftercare services are an important part of any recovering addict’s drug treatment plan. These resources can help an individual stay on track once they leave rehab and are faced with temptations and stresses in their environment. Ongoing therapy, support groups and 12-step programs are all valuable aftercare resources that can help participants avoid returning to former drug use.
Multiple factors can contribute to recurrent drug abuse, but a good set of relapse prevention skills can help a recovering individual maintain their commitment to a drug-free life. Relapse prevention programs also help participants learn how to address a minor slip before it gets out of control.
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