Relapse is a common problem for individuals recovering from addiction. Although returning to treatment after relapse can be discouraging, people should remember that addiction is like any other chronic disease: remission is often punctuated by relapse.
Some forms of therapy have been found to be especially helpful for those who have experienced a relapse. Emphasizing the use of these therapies can help patients be more successful in their recovery.
Relapse Prevention Techniques
Not all addiction treatment programs place appropriate emphasis on relapse prevention. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism notes that the most effective relapse prevention strategies are those that take into account each person’s individual needs and requirements.1
Some patients may not be fully prepared for the intensity of cravings that will occur. Others may not have been educated to recognize the signs of an impending relapse. Still others may not be experienced in recognizing their individual triggers, such as being in certain places where they used the substance or seeing people they used to drink or do drugs with.
These individuals must be assisted in creating a prevention strategy that includes self-care, exercise, having a circle of non-using friends to hang out with and reaching out for professional help when needed. These measures are integral parts of an effective relapse prevention strategy that each person in recovery needs to have ready when cravings strike.
Dual Diagnosis Complications
Individuals who relapse may have undiagnosed mental health issues that are making it difficult to maintain recovery. Depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and other problems can keep the person in a state of emotional chaos, preventing them from rebuilding their lives effectively after addiction. A psychology article in Time notes that treatment of these mental health issues by trained professionals will ensure that they are able to take on the task of recovery with greater emotional control.2
Lack of Proper Aftercare
Many individuals who have been through a treatment program may not have understood how important their aftercare strategy is to the success of their recovery. Aftercare may include additional counseling that can help them to stay on the path of sobriety, as well as 12-step groups that can provide the social support that is critical for those recovering from addiction. Greater emphasis on establishing and utilizing an aftercare network can improve the rate of success in recovery.
Lack of Family or Social Support
In some cases, individuals struggling with addiction do not have the home structure that can adequately support their sobriety. There may be other family issues that have not been addressed that make it difficult to maintain a sober lifestyle. A sober living community may be necessary to provide them with a more supportive environment while they return to regular life.
Another problem may be the social network of the individual. They may be accustomed to spending time with others who freely use drugs or alcohol. These individuals may need to change their social network completely in order to stay drug or alcohol-free.
Each person has unique factors that contribute to relapse. A careful analysis by a professional addiction counselor can help identify the therapies that can help to get back on track for a successful recovery.