It takes time to recover from addiction. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic brain disease that affects the brain in all areas including pleasure, cognitive abilities, memory, and motivation. Because addiction does not occur overnight, recovery from addiction is also a lengthy process that may involve relapses. Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent relapsing.
Why Do People Experience Relapse?
Drugs and alcohol are mind-altering substances. They can cause people to develop a dependence, which is when too much dopamine causes a chemical imbalance in the brain. This generates cravings and motivates the person to continue drug or alcohol abuse. Repeated or long-term use may harm regulatory parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex. Such harmful effects are why SUD is considered a chronic brain disease.
Unfortunately, when a person wishes to quit drinking or using drugs, the neurotransmitters and neurological pathways in the brain have been altered so much that the body may not function properly or feel pleasure without substances. The brain begins sending mixed signals that depress the mood and confuse physical feelings. When discomfort and negative emotions during abstinence cause a person to crave substances, they are vulnerable to relapse.
Is The Cycle of Relapse Breakable?
Although addiction is a chronic brain disease, it is treatable. Working with professional treatment providers and getting support from loved ones can make breaking the cycle of relapse a bit easier. Breaking the cycle requires much commitment and effort. After detox, individuals should actively plan ways to maintain sobriety with a relapse prevention plan.
Relapse may happen when a person feels emotionally overwhelmed, stressed, or frustrated about the process of recovery. Everyone handles the various stages of recovery differently. For example, detox and treatment can take weeks or months, and getting to a place where one’s sobriety feels stabilized can take many years for some people. Recovering individuals need to be scientifically informed, programmatically engaged, and intrinsically motivated to continue recovery and avoid relapse.
What Does a Relapse Prevention Plan Include?
The most important part of a relapse prevention plan is identifying triggers and risk factors. To some people, prominent triggers may include traumatic events or difficult family relationships. Others may be challenged by unhealthy work environments. Ongoing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can also trigger a relapse. Knowing one’s vulnerabilities can allow one to plan how to manage those vulnerabilities when they appear before they induce relapses.
Besides identifying triggers and implementing stress management, recovering individuals need a strong support system in place. A support system can include health professionals, family and friends, and peers from support groups such as 12-Step meetings and alumni gatherings.
How Do Residential Treatment Programs Promote Relapse Prevention?
People who have failed to quit on their own or repeatedly relapsed can benefit from joining a residential treatment program where health professionals provide a high level of care. Recovering individuals must fight against the belief that chronic relapse equals failure. Education about the science behind addiction can help de-stigmatize relapses.
Residential treatment gives individuals the time, space, and professional support they need to heal and break free from addiction and relapses. A team of health professionals and recovery experts will also work with the person to find out what the individual’s potential triggers are. Then, professionals will work with them to implement healthy coping strategies to manage these triggers.
What Support Is Needed to Break From Relapses?
Addiction recovery and relapse prevention programs provide a wide range of services, including mental health treatment from a certified therapist, dual diagnosis treatment, one-on-one therapy, family therapy, group therapy, a relapse prevention plan, aftercare, or outpatient support, and more.
Depending on a person’s unique needs and common triggers, health professionals will utilize these resources to customize a relapse prevention plan. For example, people whose triggers involve challenging family dynamics may need a higher level of family involvement and therapy. Family therapy can help the entire family develop strategies to make positive changes in support of their loved one’s recovery.
Why Is Motivation Critical for Ending Relapses?
People who experience relapses often begin with an intense desire for recovery but end with deep frustration. Because recovery is a life-long process, motivation for putting in long-term work is critical. Relapse prevention requires a support system that continues to monitor and motivate a person.
Though relapse can be difficult, it can be viewed as an opportunity to understand oneself more deeply. Individuals who have relapsed can take a step back and assess themselves and their situation. What went wrong? Where did their routine begin to falter? Which stressors did they ignore? What shifted their mindset?
These lessons learned are valuable for getting back on track. Recovery will become a rich journey of mind-body rebalancing, self-discovery, and transformation when these lessons are heeded. A “quick fix” mentality only perpetuates the cycle of relapse. Individuals in recovery need to look toward long-term solutions to maintain motivation and prevent future relapses.
Many people experience relapses even after completing addiction treatment. The key to breaking this cycle is to build a steady structure of accountability in your life. Laguna Shores Recovery offers customizable programs to help you achieve this goal. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can guide you through recovery with an emphasis on the importance of relapse prevention and stress management. If you’re ready to work with recovery specialists to rebuild a healthy lifestyle and surround yourself with positive people and relationships, our residential facility is the best place to be. Finding strong bonds with people in recovery who have similar struggles as you is an essential part of the process. Our full medical residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, relapse prevention planning, and 12-Step programs. Early intervention is key. Act now and call us at (866) 906-3203.