Within the context of substance abuse, relapse refers to the resumption of drug or alcohol use after a period of abstinence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimated that 40 to 60 percent of addicts will relapse at some point in their recovery. Although relapse is a normal characteristic of the recovery process of any chronic disease, it is also one of the major impediments to successful treatment outcomes.
Negative emotional states such as anxiety, stress, boredom, frustration and depression are among the strongest triggers for relapse due to their ability to stimulate drug-seeking behavior and stress-related cravings during a period of abstinence. Patients may have initially used drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism and their ability to cope with highly stressful situations may lead to relapse as well.
In addition to stress, Carole Bennett, M.A., author of “Reclaim Your Life: You and the Alcoholic/Addict,” outlined four dispositions that largely contribute to addiction and relapse:
- Many people find themselves over-indulging in various vices out of boredom. Relapse may be avoided by creating a schedule for the addict to adhere to and be accountable for that includes new hobbies or activities.
- Fears of the unknown, failure, losing control are among the mindsets that may cause addicts or alcoholics to revert to self-medicating behaviors that initially led them to use drugs or alcohol. As these individuals begin to experience small or even large victories in recovery, they begin to trust that the outcome is not as fearful as they had thought.
- The feeling that the alcoholic or drug addict is unable to fulfill expectations can lead to relapse. Some expectations, whether these are internally or externally imposed, can be unrealistic, which can set the addict up for failure and he or she may return to the only way he or she knows to achieve comfort by getting high. Expectations need to be realistic so the person addicted to drugs and/or alcohol is not set up for failure.
- The addict or alcoholic harboring anger or resentment can lead to self-medication with drugs and/or alcohol, self-pity and a sense of failure, which can set him or her up for relapse. Engagement in therapy or 12-step groups can help patients release pent up feelings of anger and resentment and gain a proper perspective.
No matter the reason for the relapse, the overarching focus in treatment must be on shoring up the determination to succeed in recovery to eventually lead a sober life, free from the shackles of addiction. Behavioral treatments can help people with drug and alcohol addiction change their attitudes and behaviors and increase their life skills to reduce their chances of relapse. Treatment for substance abuse and dependence should include teaching patients the skills and techniques they need to resolve negative emotional states that can lead to relapse.
It is also imperative that patients are provided continuing care following their treatment that includes a support system, therapy, stress-reduction techniques and medication. Any underlying or co-occurring conditions must be addressed and treated simultaneously. It is also crucial that the recovering alcoholics or addicts find a social group that is also committed to sobriety; otherwise, loneliness and isolation could trigger a relapse. The transition back to their “normal” lives following a 30, 60 or 90-day stint in rehabilitation must be carefully monitored, as returning home can trigger cravings and relapse when they associate the place itself with using.
In the end, it is up to the addict to follow through and remain committed to recovery. No one can force continued sobriety on someone. The necessary support and tools that a person with drug or alcohol addiction needs to avoid relapse and maintain long-term recovery can be provided and taught in substance abuse treatment programs such as Sovereign Health, but the addict must be responsible for owning his or her own recovery.
Sovereign Health of Florida
Sovereign Health of Florida is one of the only behavioral health treatment providers in the state that specializes in the treatment of substance abuse, mental health and co-occurring disorders. Available with natural detoxification, residential rehabilitation and intensive outpatient treatment levels of care, our dual diagnosis treatment program is vital for those with more than one psychological condition that may feed a destructive cycle of problems.
Our cutting-edge treatment facilities located in Fort Myers and Pompano Beach are staffed with professionals who specialize in providing high-quality behavioral treatment to men and women with substance abuse, mental health issues and co-occurring disorders. It is here that patients can jumpstart their recovery in a healthy and vibrant community.
Sovereign Health of Florida’s behavioral treatment facilities located in Fort Myers and Pompano Beach provide clients with the best care during their stay and equip them with the tools they need to thrive after they leave treatment. Treatment at our facilities includes individual psychotherapy, group therapy, evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), solution-focused brief therapy and psychoeducation, alternative therapies like yoga, biofeedback and meditation, continuing care programs and educational activities to ensure our patients’ successful acclimation back into society following discharge.
If you or your loved one is affected by a mental health disorder, substance abuse problem or co-occurring disorders, help is available. For more information about our programs at Sovereign Health of Florida, please contact our 24/7 helpline to speak to a member of our admissions team.
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