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Relapse Prevention


Drug addiction is a complex and serious medical condition that needs to be tackled on multiple fronts. The addiction treatment process often begins with detox, followed by rehab and aftercare support. While detox is concerned with drug discontinuation and withdrawal management, it does very little to address the issues that surround addiction. Rehab programs are also needed to address the emotional and environmental precursors of drug addiction, with inpatient and outpatient programs available throughout Idaho and across the United States. Relapse prevention techniques and systems play an important role in the rehabilitation process, both during rehab and on an aftercare basis. In order to prevent the return of negative behavior patterns, recovering drug addicts need to learn how to identify potential triggers, avoid high risk situations, and learn new coping mechanisms.


What is relapse?

Relapse is a medical term that is used to describe the return of a past medical condition. Also known as recidivism, relapse is a common outcome of drug addiction, which is a learned behavior maintained by neuronal adaptations. In order to prevent relapse from taking place, therapists need to work with patients to help them set up new psychological associations. Relapse is often treated in a progressive fashion, with therapists helping patients to recognize the different stages of relapse as they arise. Relapse is both a failed outcome of the treatment process and a transgression that takes place slowly over time. Most relapse prevention systems attempt to recognize and change problematic behavior patterns from the inside-out, not just helping patients to stop using drugs but also giving them the psychological skills needed for long-term recovery.


The stages of relapse

Emotional relapse is the first stage of relapse, with this phase marked by unhealthy feelings and out-of-place emotional responses. Common signs of emotional relapse include sadness, isolation, fear, anger, mood swings, frustration, irritability, and not asking for help. The emotional relapse phase is often completely missed by recovering addicts, many of who are still struggling with the recovery process. This is why it’s so important for people to stay engaged with the treatment process, because therapists can help people to recognize the warning signs before they get out of hand. Mental relapse is the next phase, with common signs including contradictory thought patterns, drug cravings, drug fantasies, and making plans for a physical relapse event. While patients may not want to start using drugs again during this phase, they are often confused and don’t know which way to turn. Unless the signs of emotional and mental relapse are dealt with properly, a physical relapse event is highly likely.


Mindfulness and meditation

Mindfulness plays an important role during relapse prevention regimes, with patients only able to change problematic behavior patterns if they are aware of them first. While mindfulness is often associated with eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism, it simply refers to the art of paying attention. By paying attention to your sensations, feelings, and thoughts as they arise, you can learn to recognize potential triggers and avoid high risk situations before they develop. There are a number of things that can trigger a relapse event, with recovering addicts needing to stay on their toes if they want to stay clean and sober. Potential triggers include anger, frustration, isolation, tiredness, location proximity, social proximity and many more. Meditation practice is a great way to develop mindfulness techniques, with patients then able to carry these lessons into everyday life. Mindfulness and meditation systems have been incorporated into many rehab centers, with programs also available through independent operators. If you or anyone you know in Idaho needs help to overcome a drug addiction, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as you can.