A relapse is defined as a recurrence of a disease that has gone into recovery or remission. Addiction is a chronic disease, so individuals who have battled substance abuse are prone to returning to drug use. Because of this risk, relapse prevention is a central component of both rehabilitation programs and aftercare services.
The regression into addictive behavior happens gradually. For recovering addicts, part of relapse prevention involves learning how to identify triggers and manage stressors before an isolated lapse turns into continued usage. The relapse prevention skills learned in the substance abuse rehabilitation program provided at Drug Treatment Centers Montclair can help patients stay on track for long-term sobriety.
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Understanding the three distinct stages to the relapse process is important to avoid the return to drug use. Individuals who find they have begun exhibiting the behaviors associated with the earlier stages can catch themselves and interrupt the process before they fall back into addiction.
The initial stage of the process is known as an emotional setback. Although an individual may not be consciously thinking about using during this period, emotions such as fear, self-doubt or depression may be present that set the stage for a return to usage. If an individual can address the emotions that might lead to usage at an early stage, the chain reaction can be stopped before the situation becomes unmanageable.
If the stages of the process continue, an individual experiences a mental setback. During this period, an individual struggles with conflicting feelings about wanting to use and not wanting to use. This stage often begins when a recovering addict starts thinking about the old places where they once used and the people they previously used with. There is a tendency to glamorize these past events and relationships during a mental relapse, and the urge to use becomes difficult to resist.
Individuals who don’t manage to address the feelings and behaviors associated with the first two stages will progress to the final stage of the process: physical relapse. This is the stage where a recovering addict returns to an old habit and either takes a drug or has a drink. Once one of these habits has been resumed, it becomes more difficult to stop the process and prevent a return to addiction.
Preventing a relapse is possible, but recovering addicts face challenging odds, especially in the early years of recovery. According to a 2014 academic paper about alcohol addiction, 80% of individuals who are recovering from alcoholism will experience a setback within the initial two years of their recovery. The relapse rate drops by half if an individual can make it through those critical first years and stay sober. After five years of uninterrupted sobriety, the rate drops even further.
The relapse prevention skills taught during alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation and aftercare can help an individual deal with the triggers and situations that may tempt them to use a substance. These programs help recovering individuals develop new activities and habits to replace their old, unhealthy ones. Recovering addicts learn to take immediate action if they find themselves succumbing to a single lapse; they also learn to avoid the inevitable feelings of guilt and shame that might accompany a slip and lead to a full-blown relapse.
Support groups are an effective way for recovering individuals to develop new relationships that don’t involve drinking or drug use. In these groups, participants offer each other moral support and advice as they face the challenges of recovery and stay on the path to long-term sobriety.