Drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic disease that may affect addicts even after successful treatment. Even after completing treatment and embracing a life of sobriety, addicts are liable to relapse due to underlying emotional, psychological or physiological factors. They may find themselves returning to their previous habits, or falling into a new drug addiction. This is why it’s so important for addicts to learn the relapse prevention tools and techniques so that they don’t end up relapsing.
From experience, our staff at White Sands Tampa know that just one more relapse could very well be an addict’s last relapse. Unfortunately, we don’t mean that it would be because they got sober, but instead, because that last relapse resulted in their imminent death.
A vast number of former addicts will relapse, which is why it’s so essential that addicts participate in our relapse prevention program and take active steps to reduce the likelihood of relapse.
Why addicts relapse
Addicts relapse for many reasons. The transition from an inpatient program to being a full-time member of society can be jarring – and the newly sober may find themselves surrounded by familiar temptation. They may not have received appropriate aftercare, leaving them without the tools to manage their addiction in the long-term.
They may not have been fully committed to their treatment or sobriety, or they may have been suffering from concurrent mental health problems that weren’t sufficiently addressed. They may feel isolated or alone, or find themselves among people who drink or use drugs – thus increasing the temptation they may feel. Or they may give up addiction to one substance, only to find themselves taking up another addiction in its place. Even productive habits such as working hard or exercising can be detrimental when an addictive mentality is applied to them.
The dangers of relapse
Addicts who relapse may find themselves even deeper in their addiction, or using new drugs or a combination of them. Additionally, as the dangers of drug addiction compound over time, relapse represents a return to a long-term life of chronic illness, and its side effects can become quickly more apparent. Relapse is also difficult on both the individual and their loved ones, with the relapsed individual being seen as a failure or beyond hope. This can be disheartening for the addicted individual, who may find it more difficult to believe in their ability to become and remain sober.
How to prevent drug addiction relapse
While drug or alcohol addiction can’t always be cured, it can be successfully managed, allowing individuals to reclaim their lives .
However, relapse is common – so common that most addicts don’t achieve complete long-term sobriety upon their first attempt. Drug addiction, after all, is a chronic disease, and a recurrence of symptoms isn’t uncommon. However, this doesn’t mean that relapse has to be a part of the sobriety journey. In fact, the idea that relapse is acceptable should never be entertained, as otherwise it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Individuals can be more successful in their efforts to lead a life of sobriety if they are committed to their aftercare, have prepared for their transition back home, and make new friends who lead sober lives. They should also be realistic about their expectations, and understand that sobriety is a journey – but one to be enjoyed.
If relapse does occur, it doesn’t mean that the treatment has failed – but rather that certain aspects of the treatment need to be reapplied, or that other approaches should be tried. Addiction isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and neither is treatment. Personalized, tailored approaches are the most efficacious.
Creating a relapse prevention plan
An important approach to preventing drug addiction relapse is through a drug addiction relapse prevention plan.
A drug addiction relapse prevention plan is an outline that helps individuals adjust back into their lives while battling the specter of addiction. Such plans usually form part of an outpatient or partial hospitalization plan, or are developed as part of a patient’s aftercare program subsequent to completing a detox program.
Relapse prevention plans offer tips on a successful transition back into society. They encourage participation in ongoing programs or groups, as well as support from peers, networks or trusted individuals. They may include recommendations for overall well-being, such as participation in healthy activities or regular visits to mental health providers. Importantly, they also outline patterns and triggers relating to an individual’s drug use behavior – helping an individual see when they might be at risk of a relapse and being able to take preventative action before the relapse occurs. Making note of and responding to these warning signs and triggers can be the difference between lifetime sobriety and relapse.
With our rigorous outpatient and aftercare programs, White Sands Tampa has a strong record in relapse prevention. To minimize the risk of relapse, speak to us about our addiction treatment programs at 1-877-640-7820 and ask us how to prevent drug addiction relapse.