How to Prevent Substance Addiction Relapse

Substance Addiction is a disease that includes a chemical addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. At Emerge Healing Center, we offer treatment for Alcoholism and drug addictions, along with trauma and PTSD programs. We can also treat a dual diagnosis. Unfortunately, the risk of relapse in Substance Addiction is high. Relapse occurs when the addicted individual uses drugs/alcohol again after a period of sobriety.

Although common, relapse doesn’t mean the end of hope and a life of sobriety. We treat many individuals who have gone through treatment before.

Statistics on Relapse

Some people in the addiction recovery field suggest that relapse is an inevitable part of recovery. The actual data shows that approximately 40-60% of addicts relapse. While that is high, it doesn’t mean every individual should expect to relapse. It indicates that substance addicts are at a higher risk and should know what may lead to a relapse.

Interestingly, researchers compared addiction relapse rates to common health disorders like Asthma and high blood pressure. The rates of relapse are similar. The rate of Asthma relapses is 50-70% which is the same as high blood pressure.

Comparing Substance Addiction to these diseases should remind everyone that addiction is a disease and should be treated as such, even in case of relapse. It’s also important to note another relapse statistic. If 40-60% do relapse, then logically, 40-60% do not relapse. Treatment is proven to be effective, and continuing care can make all of the difference.

Instead of throwing out the towel, reassess treatment, and remember that hope and sobriety are still available.

Signs of an Addiction Relapse

A Substance Addiction relapse rarely occurs without warning signs. Like any disease, there are symptoms (both behavioral and emotional) that may indicate action is needed to prevent a relapse. A common way to understand relapse is by looking at it in three stages: emotional, mental, and physical. The first stage, emotional, is when an individual fails to handle their emotions. This dysregulation can happen weeks or months before an actual relapse occurs. The second stage, mental, includes the individual beginning to doubt their choice of sobriety and even think about ways to begin using again. The final stage, physical, is the actual act of using again.

Symptoms to look out for with an addiction relapse can include:

  • A decrease in recovery habits such as absence at support meetings, less communication with sponsors, and more.
  • Difficulty managing heightened negative emotions such as shame, sadness, or guilt.
  • Beginning to feel a loss of hope or out of balance with life.
  • An increase in compulsive behaviors. This symptom can be tricky because it may present as something positive such as increased interest in work, sex, exercise, or other behaviors.
  • Beginning to isolate themselves more than usual.
  • Relational problems with family and friends.
  • Engaging in secrecy more often.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the above, don’t panic. Instead, have an honest and open conversation with someone you trust. Relapse prevention treatment is also available – you don’t have to relapse to get the help you deserve.

If you’re new in recovery and are wary of relapse, having habits in place, especially in a community, can decrease your chances significantly. Relapse rates are higher when you’re new in recovery.

Ways to Prevent Relapse

Again, although the risk is high, relapse is preventable with Substance Addiction. It’s important for the treatment center you attend to prioritize relapse prevention and aftercare as much as the initial treatment itself.

Strong defenses again relapse include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, specific medications, and ongoing aftercare, especially a support system. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is essentially talk therapy and is used to examine patterns of thinking that can be harmful, as well as how to change them. That skill lasts into recovery and gives addicts a better chance of not relapsing. Some medications, only when prescribed, can also help with relapse prevention. This is sometimes called Medication Assisted Treatment.

The last defense, ongoing aftercare, could arguably be the most important in preventing relapse. Creating and staying active in your sobriety community such as meetings, sober-supportive friends, and a sponsor is vital. It’s also important to know your own triggers, which can be emotional or situational, and how to remove yourself from those experiences if they occur. Lastly, continuing therapy after initial treatment is a positive step to take.

What to do if a Relapse Occurs

If you or a loved one has relapsed from substance addiction, we hope you aren’t giving in to feelings of shame and guilt. You are not alone in this struggle. The first step is to acknowledge that it has happened. Don’t hide and attempt to cover this up from your loved ones – that can only increase feelings of shame.

After accepting that relapse has occurred, begin to take healing steps. Usually, this means participating in treatment again. This may seem daunting but can be necessary. If this is the case, be sure to choose a treatment center that has a strong relapse prevention program, and that customizes your treatment to your unique situation.

While in treatment, be sure to examine your relapse, especially the months leading up to it. What was it that led you to think about using it again? Knowing those triggers could be the difference in not using them again.

Getting Treatment

If you or a loved one are currently dealing with a Substance Addiction and would like to know more about treatment options in Atlanta, contact us today. At Emerge Healing Center, our team can help you to decide which program is right for you, as well as design a treatment program that will maximize your chances of success. Gain control of your life with the help of the right treatment center, and find out just how fulfilling an addiction-free life can be.