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Relapse Prevention

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40% – 60% of addicts that complete drug rehabilitation will relapse within the first year. Relapse is defined as a person’s continued use of addictive substances after a period of abstinence. A lack of proper support, emotional stress and difficulty adjusting to sober living can all cause a person to start using harmful substances again. Some addiction specialists view relapse as an inevitable part of the recovery process, but this does not have to be the case. Relapse prevention is designed to help recovering addicts recognize the warning signs of relapse and equip them with the necessary tools to maintain their sobriety. The majority of drug treatment centers in Massachusetts offer relapse prevention programs to their patients to help them on the road to recovery.

Why Is Relapse Prevention Necessary?

Around 90% of alcoholics will relapse within the first four years after receiving treatment. Abstaining from drugs and alcohol while undergoing treatment is achievable for the vast majority of addicts, but remaining sober when out in the real world can be more difficult. Research has shown that the longer a person remains sober, the less likely they are to suffer a relapse. The first year of sobriety is usually the hardest, and relapse prevention programs in Massachusetts are designed to offer continuing support to those in recovery. Overcoming addiction does not end with the completion of treatment as recovery is a lifelong process that requires time and effort from the addict and his or her own support network.

Triggers That May Cause a Relapse

As many people use drugs or alcohol as a coping method for times of emotional stress, it can be easy to start thinking about drug use during difficult times. Major events such as divorce, the death of a loved one, unemployment or health problems are all potential triggers that can lead to a relapse. Pressure from friends or a loved one can also make it hard to ignore cravings, so a strong support network of people who support the person’s sobriety is essential. Boredom or a lack of purpose and motivation is another known trigger that can quickly lead to relapse if the person does not address his or her feelings.

The Three Stages of Relapse

Relapse can be broken down into three distinct phases:

Emotional Relapse – Emotional relapse does not involve thinking about drugs or drug-seeking behavior. The first stage is characterized by feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and loss of interest in eating and socializing. The person may also feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with stress.

Mental Relapse – Mental relapse occurs when the person begins fantasizing about using drugs and glamorizing his or her past drug use. The person may also start hanging out with old friends that still use drugs and visiting old haunts.

Physical Relapse – When a person actually begins using drugs or alcohol, this is known as physical relapse. Once physical relapse occurs, it is much harder to get back on the road to recovery.

Benefits of Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention involves attending ongoing treatment sessions, participating in group therapy and utilizing self-help methods such as meditation, yoga and acupuncture. Interacting in social environments is a great way to increase a person’s confidence and self-worth, and group therapy sessions offer former addicts an opportunity to help others in recovery.

If you or someone you know is currently dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, accessing professional treatment is the best way to overcome addiction. Attempting to deal with an addiction alone is an incredibly difficult and lonely process, and detoxing at home can often lead to relapse. Reach out for help and find expert advice on achieving sobriety through a professional Massachusetts rehabilitation program.