A relapse can be described as a return to drug use after a period of recovery. Addiction is a chronic disease, and people who have conquered a drug or alcohol addiction still face the continued risk of relapse. Drug treatment programs and aftercare resources try to reduce this risk by placing an emphasis on prevention. Not all one-time slips lead to a full relapse: A return to substance use is usually a gradual process that develops over time. A series of warning signs accompanies this process, and a key aspect of relapse prevention involves learning to recognize these signs and take the appropriate action. Developing a relapse prevention plan during rehab can help patients stay on the right track long after they leave the treatment center.
Understanding the early signs is an integral part of relapse prevention. At drug treatment centers in Philadelphia, programs involve getting patients to break free of their old habits and surround themselves with new friends:. These activities help them avoid temptations and maintain a healthy, positive outlook. When a recovering individual stops focusing on these new activities and relationships, it's easy to slide back into substance use.
Some of the early warning signs include:
The presence of these warning signs doesn't mean that a relapse is inevitable. It's important to acknowledge the feelings you might be having and take action to address these feelings in a healthy way. Exercise and positive social interaction can help reduce stress, and calling a trusted sponsor can help you stay strong when you're dealing with cravings. If you've stopped going to your usual 12-step meetings or support groups, returning to these supportive environments can help you strengthen your resolve to stay drug-free.
It's possible to maintain your recovery and avoid a relapse, but it's not always easy. Statistics show that it is particularly common during the first two years of recovery. A 2014 study on alcohol dependence, up to 80 percent of recovering alcoholics will experience a relapse during the first 24 months of recovery. After the first two years, the rate drops by nearly 50 percent. People who have maintained over five years of continued sobriety have even lower relapse rates.
Developing a relapse prevention plan during treatment can help a recovering person deal with the stresses and triggers that could cause them to resume their old behaviors. Choosing new activities and forming healthy habits help recovering addicts create a fresh start that doesn't involve their former destructive ways. While these proactive tactics are good ways to prevent a relapse, experts agree that avoidance behavior is one of the most effective tools for a recovering addict. Avoiding bars and clubs helps reduce the pressure to drink, and steering clear of people who drink or abuse alcohol can also help avoid temptation. During rehab, patients learn to take immediate action if they spot the warning signs or experience a one-time slip; they also learn to avoid feelings of guilt or shame about their lapse. Many recovering individuals reinforce their coping skills by participating in aftercare services such as support groups and 12-step programs. These resources allow participants to encourage one another and share their challenges.