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Relapse Prevention

Once someone achieves abstinence in drug rehab and receives effective treatment following detox, they are still at risk of relapse when they leave drug rehab if measures aren't taken to prevent this. Relapse prevention starts while the individual is in rehab, but there are relapse prevention steps that should be in place so that any struggles the individual may have when they leave rehab can be effectively handled. Even after treatment, temptation will creep in and environmental triggers are always a factor. In the face of these challenges, treatment clients are only as strong-willed and steeled against relapse as the relapse prevention methods they utilize in their life on a daily basis. Relapse prevention starts before any type of circumstances arise which could trigger a relapse, so individuals always need to be ahead of the game to keep their lives on track.

What is Relapse Prevention?

Relapse prevention takes into account anything that would compromise the individual's abstinence, including social and environmental factors and emotional or psychological triggers. For example, if someone completes a comprehensive drug rehab program but goes back home to an abusive spouse, the likelihood of relapse is far greater than someone who finds other living arrangements so that they can avoid this abuse. Another example would be someone who completes rehab and keeps the same group of friends who they used drugs and alcohol with prior to rehab, and who most likely introduced them to substance abuse. Someone cannot be expected to remain sober or abstinent when associating with people involved in substance abuse, as this will sooner or later result in a devastating relapse which of course could have been avoided with proper relapse prevention. Not taking measures to make important environmental and social changes is setting an individual up for failure, so relapse prevention steps to make these important changes is extremely crucial.

Relapse Prevention Increases the Chance of a Successful Recovery

Individuals who agree to and participate in a continuum of care or aftercare program following rehab statistically fare far better after treatment than those who don't participate in some type of aftercare. Men for example have higher relapse rates than women, because women are more likely to seek out and participate in counseling and other aftercare services once they complete a treatment program. Experience has shown that once individuals complete rehab, being connected to a strong support system is an important aspect of relapse prevention. Even after rehab, treatment alumni can feel isolated and struggle with their abstinence or sobriety. When having to deal with these challenges alone, or at least feeling alone, the outcome can be a devastating relapse. It isn't always enough to have support and understanding from one's immediate family and friends, who may not understand their struggles. Support groups and group counseling are the perfect outlets for individuals in this situation, and can be a very beneficial relapse prevention method. As a group, individuals can feel safe communicating their challenges, fears and setbacks without the fear of being judged, and individuals will know for sure that they are not the only ones experiencing these challenges and setbacks.

An important aspect of relapse prevention is to know how to spot the warning signs of substance abuse which will ultimately lead to a relapse. This can be different for each and every person, but most often is associated, again, with social or psychological triggers that will result in a setback. For example, maybe someone was addicted to prescription pain killers and that's why they needed treatment. Let's say they sustain an injury, and they are about to have access to pain killers for valid pain through their physician. This is the point where they would want to make their physician aware of their past history of substance abuse, so that other measures can be taken to manage their pain, such as using a non-narcotic pain reliever. While some may be able to be trusted in this situation, the psychological and emotional ties to these types of drugs can remain strong long after cessation of use, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

In Conclusion

It is important for individuals in recovery and following recovery through the use of relapse prevention techniques to learn how to successfully cope with life and everything that comes one's way without turning to drugs or alcohol. Learning how to cope with fear, loss, anxiety, anger, etc. is extremely important and individuals can deal and cope with these feelings and with life in general if they have the tools to do so. Counseling and other therapeutic approaches to relapse prevention can assist them in doing so.

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