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Relapse is a term that is used to describe the return to heavy drug or alcohol use after a prolonged period of minimal or no drug and alcohol use. It is typically caused by a variety of things, such as:
- Lack of support
- Negative/positive emotions
- Celebratory events
- Things/places/people that serve as reminders of past drug use
- Lack of coping skills
While these items are by no means an exhaustive list of things that can cause a relapse, it is important to note that relapse can affect anyone and may be influenced by a variety of circumstances and factors.
Relapse typically happens in three stages: emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse.
In this stage of relapse, individuals are in a state of denial. They isolate themselves emotionally and physically. Eating, sleeping, and hygiene habits suffer, and although they are not consciously thinking about using drugs or alcohol again, they ignore their own emotional and behavioral cues.
In this stage, individuals may romanticize past memories of drug or alcohol use, experience strong cravings for substances, and look for opportunities to use again. They may also start to convince themselves that it’s okay to use again because they can control it this time.
At this point, obsessive thoughts take over and the individual has a lapse. He or she physically starts using drugs or alcohol again. A single lapse does not mean that all hope for sobriety is lost, but continued usage can lead the person right back into uncontrolled drug and alcohol abuse.
Relapse Prevention in Addiction Treatment
Relapse prevention is an important aspect of drug and alcohol rehab. As clients progress through their rehab programs at our addiction treatment center, they will work with clinical counselors and recovery specialists to build a solid foundation in sobriety that incorporates a variety of relapse prevention techniques.
- Exploring positive and negative effects of continued drug use – Clients will participate in educational lectures and group discussions about the consequences of continued drug use. These discussions are used as a learning tool to help clients understand their behaviors, thoughts, and motivations behind their drug use, as well as the outcomes and consequences that follow.
- Identifying high-risk situations – Through discussions about past lapses, relapse dreams, or fantasies about drug and alcohol use, counselors can help clients identify situations in which they would be at high risk for relapse. Talking about these situations allows the client and counselor to work together to recognize warning signs and take action to avoid the situation or manage it in a way that does not put their sobriety at risk.
- Self-monitoring – To help reduce the likelihood of relapse, clients will learn how to increase their own self-awareness so they can recognize cravings, red flags, and signs of relapse. By monitoring their own behavioral and emotional cues, they can be better prepared to ask for help when it’s needed most.
- Developing strategies to cope with cravings – Throughout drug and alcohol rehab, clients may experience cravings for drugs or alcohol. This is a normal occurrence. Counselors and recovery specialists will work with each client to develop personal strategies to cope with their cravings. In recognizing these cravings as a normal response to a stimulus, clients can learn to manage cravings in a way that works best for them.
- Managing lapses – Sometimes relapse is a part of recovery, but relapse does not equate to failure. If an individual does have a minor lapse or even a full relapse in recovery, Nova’s recovery support services are designed to hold that person accountable for their actions while providing support to help get them back on track.
- Creating a relapse prevention plan – Each client that completes a Nova drug and alcohol rehab program will leave will a relapse prevention plan in place. This ensures that specific actions will take place in the event of a lapse or full relapse and specific individuals will each play a role in helping the client resume their sobriety.
Relapse prevention is an essential part of every client’s journey at Nova Recovery Center and our program is designed to prepare every individual for the challenges they will face after they leave our addiction treatment center.
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