Completing a drug or alcohol treatment program is a big accomplishment, but many of recovery’s most significant challenges occur after you leave the rehab center. The risk of relapse is high, and relapse prevention can be difficult when you’re surrounded by the stresses and temptations that may lead you to use again.
Understanding what a relapse is and recognizing the early warning signs are important parts of any effective relapse prevention plan. With the right skills and support services in place, it’s possible to manage stresses, resist cravings, and stay sober.
For recovery help and relapse prevention planning, call Drug Treatment Centers Burlington VT at (802) 881-0115.
It’s easy to see why relapse prevention is emphasized in drug and alcohol treatment programs: Research confirms that the rate of relapse among people with a substance addiction is quite high. A study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that up to 60 percent of individuals will return to substance abuse at some point after drug rehab.
Some substances of abuse have even higher rates of relapse. Alcoholism research reveals that as many as 80 percent of individuals with an alcohol addiction will relapse within 12 months of treatment.
These statistics may be discouraging, but long-term recovery is still possible with the right support and services. Addressing any underlying psychological issues can also improve your odds of uninterrupted sobriety.
A relapse can be defined as any return to substance use after a period of sobriety. It’s possible to suffer a relapse at any time: It may occur immediately after treatment, or it may happen long after leaving rehab.
Regardless of when it occurs, a return to substance use tends to manifest itself in stages; in fact, many addiction treatment experts like to describe a relapse as “a process, not an event”. The first stage generally begins with an emotion or circumstance that triggers the desire to use again; this phase of the process is known as emotional relapse.
Even if you can suppress the urge at the time, the thought will remain in your mind. It’s important to address the feelings or situation that set off this temptation before the relapse process moves to the next stage, which is called mental relapse. At this point, you may start fantasizing about using or fondly remembering the people you previously used with. It becomes hard to resist the desire to use.
If nothing is done to break this cycle of thoughts and behavior, you’re likely to reach the point of physical relapse: The moment when you have a drink or use a drug again.
Relapse prevention is addressed in most rehab programs as soon as a patient has finished detox and begun therapy. Individual counseling and group therapy helps participants master coping techniques that can help them resist the temptation to use again.
Some of these strategies are cognitive: Patients are taught how to replace negative thought patterns with positive, affirming ones. Other coping skills involve changes of behavior such as exercise routines and stress reduction tactics.
Patients who successfully complete a drug treatment program can rely on aftercare services to help them prevent a relapse in the weeks and months following rehab. Counseling doesn’t have to end when you leave the treatment center: Continuing to participate in group or individual therapy can keep you on the right path toward long-term recovery.
Support groups and 12-step meetings can provide valuable guidance and motivation. These popular aftercare services give participants the chance to interact with other members who have faced similar challenges; they can also help you create new friendships that aren’t based on drinking or using.
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