Rehab is difficult – there’s no other way to describe it. Rehab might involve everything from art classes to yoga, but make no mistake: Patients in rehab have their work cut out for them.
First, there’s the struggle of detoxing. Many addictive substances make users feel seriously ill as they leave the system. Secondly, therapy, although a helpful and effective tool in rehab, can make users confront unpleasant things about themselves and their behavior. Finally, there’s the long struggle of repairing bonds with family and friends that may have been damaged during addiction.
It’s hard work, and it takes both effort and character to get through it. However, people who make it through rehab often feel as though there’s a weight hanging over their heads, kind of like a 1,000 pound safe with the word “RELAPSE” painted on it.
The thing is, relapses aren’t the end – they’re part of the journey.
What are relapses?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), defines addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease.” Like other chronic diseases, relapses are part of addiction. NIDA reports that addiction has a relapse rate of 40 to 60 percent, around the same percentages as other chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Men and women seem to experience relapses differently as well.
For addiction, relapses seem to happen when recovering addicts are exposed to drug-related triggers like seeing drug paraphernalia or visiting places where they may have purchased or used drugs frequently. One of the tougher relapse triggers to avoid is old friends. The people an addict used with may trigger rose-tinted memories of substance abuse, especially if the friends are still using.
Writing for Psych Central, Stanley J. Gross, Ed.D., outlines four coping skills that can help recovering addicts fight relapse urges:
It’s worth pointing out that time appears to make sobriety more concrete. A 2007 study published in the scientific journal “Evaluation Review” attempted to find out what happens to addicts who stay sober. The researchers examined almost 1,200 addicts over eight years and found less than half of the people who stayed sober for a year relapsed. Furthermore, people who were sober for five years had a relapse rate below 15 percent.
What’s more, additional studies have shown sobriety seems stronger in those who sought help for their problems. A study appearing in the journal Addiction in 2006 showed people who participated in treatment programs and/or 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous had a greater chance of achieving sobriety for a three-year period than those who did not seek help.
Recognizing that one needs help is the first step on the road to sobriety. Even if you or a loved one has had multiple relapses, it doesn’t mean failure. Sovereign Health of Florida is staffed by compassionate experts in the field of treatment. Our dual diagnosis approach treats both substance abuse and any underlying mental disorders that so often drive drug and alcohol abuse. Our alumni services program helps our patients build a long-lasting support network to see them through treatment and into a sober, healthy future. Please call our 24/7 helpline for more information.
About the author
Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for the Sovereign Health Group. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which’s he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at email@example.com.
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