How Understanding the Reasons for Relapse Can Help Prevent It

Sobriety | Keep-on, Keepin-on…

For many individuals who do not fully understand the phases and dynamics of addiction, rehabilitation treatment may seem like a place for the individual to go and be sober for awhile, in the hopes that they will choose to maintain their sobriety in the future. When an individual is unable to achieve sobriety through rehabilitation treatment or is unable to maintain it afterwards, observers may assume it’s because they don’t really want to be sober. For the individual himself, he can come to believe that true sobriety is actually impossible. However, when understanding drug use and the reasons for relapse, they can help to prevent it from occurring.

Substance Use and Relapse
Drug use typically begins in response to some problem the individual has encountered in their life. Whether physical, mental or emotional, this problem can appear to be beyond the individual’s control, and they decide drugs may be helpful to them. In actual fact, drugs only act to temporarily suppress the undesirable symptoms of a problem, which means that they will have to be used continuously and indefinitely if the individual wants to continue avoiding their problem. In order to permanently end drug use, then, an individual will need to not only address the physical, mental and emotional effects of their drug use, but uncover the root causes for their drug use and learn the life skills necessary to address these and similar problems in the future. And herein lies the truth about preventing a relapse: one must learn how to effectively deal with life without drugs.

Regardless of how thorough and effective a rehabilitation treatment program is and how recovered the individual himself feels that he is, the fact remains that the transition back into real life environments and routines–i.e. the same environments and routines that contributed to their drug use in the first place–can be quite difficult. A relapse back into heavy and regular drug use can be largely dependent upon how long and intense an individual’s prior drug abuse or addiction problems were, but it is not uncommon among recently recovered drug addicts. Fortunately, relapse doesn’t mean that full and lasting sobriety is impossible, and it can be prevented.

Preventing a relapse begins with understanding what exact factors are most likely to contribute to a relapse. First of all, an individual who has residual drug toxins still in their body can experience intense cravings when these toxins are pushed back into the bloodstream, as can occur through heavy exercise and exertion. It is for this reason that a full detoxification and detailed nutritional plan are essential to full and lasting recovery. Second of all, an individual who has been taking drugs has been experiencing artificial triggers for pleasure and reward in their brain. Unfortunately, over time, the body can actually become so dependent upon these substances in order to experience pleasure and reward that the individual literally doesn’t experience these desirable emotions without them.

Fortunately, they can be rebuilt over time, and an individual who is recovering can work hard to experience some of the natural joys of life–like participating in exercise, taking up recreational activities, playing games with friends and other similar activities. Third of all, an individual who feels they cannot cope or deal with certain life situations, like work, financial or relationship-related stresses, may feel an urge to turn back to drug use when they encounter these situations. They would do well to seek out natural ways they can cope with anxiety or stress, like taking a short walk, enjoying a warm bath, participating in yoga, taking up painting, listening to calming music or other options.

Where an individual feels a very strong urge toward relapsing, they should immediately seek out help and support in the form of further rehabilitation treatment. It may be that there is an additional therapy they can benefit from, or a skill they can learn, that will help them to better secure a healthy future, and it is well worth discovering.

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