Relapse prevention techniques and systems are designed to reduce sobriety failure rates among recovering addicts. While detox and behavioral therapy are an essential part of drug treatment, it’s no use getting people off drugs if they’re only going to start using them again as soon as they leave formal treatment.
Find out more about relapse prevention services by calling Arlington Drug Treatment Centers at (703) 463-2418.
Relapse prevention systems are built into many counseling and psychotherapy programs, with specific techniques also taught through aftercare programs and out-patient support groups. Relapse prevention programs can have a psychological or practical focus, with emotion regulation and mindfulness taught alongside skills acquisition and job placement.
In the context of drug treatment, relapse refers to a situation that arises when a recovering addict starts to use drugs again following a period of abstinence. Relapse prevention programs are designed to stop this from taking place, with patients taught how to recognize high risk situations, avoid triggers, and develop the coping skills needed to support long-term recovery.
Relapse is seen as both an outcome and a transgression, with most treatment systems viewing it as a continual process with a number of separate stages. By dealing with individual triggers as they arise, therapists can help patients to avoid sobriety failure.
Relapse is a process with a number of steps. The early stages are generally emotional in nature, with unhealthy feelings experienced by patients as they struggle with recovery. Unhealthy feelings are often followed by denial and defensive behavior patterns, which in turn trigger compulsive behavior and interior chaos.
Interior confusion often leads to exterior turmoil and loss of control, with addictive thinking patterns now starting to influence behavior. If the signs are not recognized and dealt with accordingly, high risk situations will develop and sobriety failure is the most likely scenario. The best way to avoid this scenario is by understanding and recognizing the signs ahead of time.
Emotional relapse represents the first stage, with patients still engaged with the recovery process but starting to struggle with their emotional state. During this early phase, people are often unaware of the process taking place under the surface, with therapists helping patients to recognize the signs before it’s too late. This stage involves a general inability to deal with emotions effectively, with common signs including anger, frustration, irritability and mood swings.
Therapists may also be able to recognize various behavioral triggers identified during emotional relapse, including poor eating habits and poor eating habits. While patients are not yet thinking about using drugs during this stage, treatment is required to stop the process of relapse from progressing any further.
Mental relapse involves unhealthy thought patterns, with interior chaos and confusion often leading to exterior turmoil. During this phase, patients are starting to think about using drugs again, with common signs including romanticizing past drug use, fantasizing future drug use, spending time with old friends and planning specific substance abuse scenarios.
While patients are generally aware of this process as it’s taking place, therapists are needed to engage with clients and teach them the psychological skills necessary to avoid using drugs and alcohol. Addictive thinking patterns can easily take over during this stage, with exposure to high risk situations likely to lead to a breakdown of the recovery process.
The physical relapse stage (when an addict uses drugs or alcohol again) marks the temporary end of the rehab process, with patients then having to decide if they want to re-engage with treatment process.