When a disease recurs after a period of remission or recovery, the recurrence is known as a relapse. Addiction is a chronic condition, and individuals who have overcome a substance addiction face an ongoing risk of relapse. Rehab programs and aftercare services place a strong emphasis on relapse prevention to reduce this risk. A one-time lapse doesn’t always lead to a full relapse: the return to addictive behavior develops over time. A major part of relapse prevention involves learning how to recognize the triggers that could lead to substance use and handle these temptations. The relapse prevention skills developed in addiction programs can help patients maintain their recovery efforts long after they leave rehab. Call Indianapolis Drug Treatment Centers today at (317) 682-1670 for more information about relapse prevention services.
Recognizing the three stages of the relapse process is a key aspect of relapse prevention. Recovering individuals who catch themselves displaying some of the signs of relapse can take action and halt the process before they reach the point where they resume substance use.
The process begins with a stage known as emotional relapse. Individuals don’t consciously think about drinking or using during this phase, but certain painful emotions may be present that lay the foundation for an eventual return to substance use. Some addiction treatment professionals compare a relapse to a line of falling dominoes: If a person can address the emotional issues that might lead them back to substance use at an earlier stage, they can stop the chain reaction and get back on the right track.
As the relapse process continues, an individual will enter the stage of mental relapse. During this phase, it’s common to struggle with conflicting feelings about using. Recovering addicts often start thinking about the places where they previously used and the friends they used with. A glamorized view of these relationships and events makes it difficult to fight the growing urge to use.
If the feelings and behaviors associated with the first two stages of relapse aren’t properly addressed, an individual will progress to the final phase: physical. At this point, a recovering person will return to their old behaviors of drug or alcohol use. Once this substance use has been resumed, it requires more effort and may even require an intervention to avoid a full return to addiction.
It’s possible to keep a relapse from occurring, but it’s not easy. Recovering addicts face daunting odds during their first year or two of recovery. According to a 2014 research study on alcohol addiction, approximately 80 percent of recovering alcoholics will suffer a relapse during their first two years of sobriety. If a person can get through those critical early years, the rate of relapse drops by 50 percent. The rate drops even further for people who have achieved five years of sobriety.
Learning a solid set of relapse prevention skills during rehab can help recovering individuals manage the triggers that could lead them back to substance abuse. It’s important for people in recovery to choose new habits and activities to replace their former unhealthy ways. In rehabs, patients learn to take prompt action if they suffer a one-time lapse; they also learn to avoid feeling ashamed or guilty about their slip. Aftercare services help patients reinforce their coping skills and strategies after they leave treatment centers. Support groups can help recovering addicts develop healthy new friendships that don’t revolve around substance use. In these groups, participants share their experiences with the challenges of recovery. They offer each other advice and moral support as they work to maintain their long-term recovery.