Any addiction treatment program — short or long-term, inpatient or outpatient, medical or behavioral — is only effective if the individual remains free of addictive substances.
Preventing a chronic relapse is the key component of any treatment program. Statistically, the chances of a relapse are very high — close to 70% — and remaining clean and sober requires a focused effort from both the person in recovery and the treatment provider.
Why do people relapse?
Chronic relapse refers to old behaviors that have returned, and the individual must reenter rehabilitation. The rate of chronic relapse is high, and mental health professionals are discovering more factors that contribute to the problem. Among the reasons an individual might relapse:
- Failure to change the social environment
- Deeper psychological issues that were not addressed in treatment
- Inadequate treatment program
The single greatest contributor to chronic relapse, however, is the belief that completing addiction treatment has “cured” the individual, and there’s no longer any need to worry about a return to addiction. In fact, this is far from the truth.
Addicts must remain ever vigilant
Managing addiction and preventing a relapse requires constant effort. The person in recovery has not been “cured” of his or her illness, but has been helped in breaking the initial cycle of abuse and has been given the tools to remain free of its clutches.
The oft-parodied introduction “My name is … and I am a(n) … is perhaps the single most important weapon in the battle. It is not a confession of sin or wrongdoing, as many make it out to be, or something of which to be ashamed; it is a statement of fact, and a crucial reminder that every day is a struggle to control one’s life. It is an act of courage.
However, addiction recovery and relapse prevention is not something that can be accomplished on one’s own. Successful recovery requires using every available resource. This may mean attending daily, weekly or monthly therapy sessions; constant contact with sponsors; the help of a sober companion/escort; family assistance and support, or any combination of these and other modalities.
While admission into rehab does not have to be voluntary to be effective, the addict must be willing to take the necessary steps to remain sober following completion. The necessary acceptance of personal responsibility in changing one’s life is what will make sobriety successful, and is the center of behavioral based therapies. In conjunction with this, those in the role of support need to be alert to behavioral clues that may indicate a relapse may occur, and be willing to intervene. These signals include:
- Boredom (especially with sobriety)
- Reminiscing about the good times while high or drunk
- Complacency, or believing that the danger has passed, and occasional use poses no threat
- Sudden increase in psychological or emotional pain such as
- Blame shifting
- Denying the problem still exists
The danger of relapsing after completing addiction rehabilitation is a real probability if there’s a failure to address all possible triggers. Not only should there be a complete restructuring of environment and habits, but support resources and communities must be in place and prepared to provide appropriate assistance.
If you feel your loved one must be placed in a rehabilitation treatment center for drug or alcohol abuse, please call 1-877-929-6887 or fill out a patient placement form and The Way Out Recovery will aid in placement.