Addiction is a disease that's chronic, which means that there is no cure, although the physical addiction can be broken. However, once the addiction is in remission, using just once can lead to a relapse of the addiction, which may require another round of detox and treatment.
Relapse prevention is a critical component of both addiction treatment and the aftercare plan that's set in place once rehab is complete. Relapse prevention training helps give patients the knowledge, skills, and techniques required to avoid lapsing, or using again.
Relapse occurs in stages rather than as a single event, and knowing the stages and recognizing the signs are an important part of relapse prevention.
Emotional relapse is the first stage. Patients aren't thinking about using at this stage, but their emotions and attitudes are setting them up for a lapse. Signs of emotional relapse include neglecting your health, skipping recovery group meetings, and experiencing feelings of resentment, frustration, or anger.
Mental relapse is the second stage. Patients begin thinking about using again, and by the end of this stage, they're thinking about and planning the lapse around loved ones' schedules. Signs of mental relapse include reminiscing about and glamorizing past use, reacquainting with old friends who still use, and thinking about using again.
Physical relapse is the final stage, and this is when the individual physically consumes drugs or alcohol.
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Various therapies used during treatment incorporate relapse education and prevention skill building as part of the rehab program. Patients learn to:
A host of skills, strategies, and techniques are available for patients to choose from when compiling their prevention toolbox. These include:
If a lapse occurs, whether or not it has led to a relapse of the addiction, swift intervention is essential for getting the situation under control and the patient back on the path to successful recovery. A lapse doesn't mean that treatment wasn't effective, and once the patient is back on track, it can help strengthen the resolve to abstain for the long term.
Intervention after a lapse will likely include a short stay at an inpatient rehab facility, during which time the issues that led to the lapse will be addressed. The aftercare plan will be revised to meet any new or changing needs, and these changes will probably include an increase in the number of therapy sessions and recovery meetings as well as other components as needed, such as staying in a sober living facility or attending vocational rehab classes to help the patient find and maintain gainful employment.