Factors for Relapse
When thinking of addiction treatment for your loved one, the possibility that they could relapse is something you probably don’t wish to think about.
However, relapse after treatment can occur but the experience can teach addiction sufferers life-long lessons that can assist them staying clean in the long term, particularly with regards to understanding their addiction and why there is no place in a sober life for drugs or alcohol.
There are mitigating factors that may precede a relapse. Often, they can be addressed before a relapse occurs.
Some of these factors are:
Motivational level and understanding of addiction by a sufferer
Many clients who enter rehabilitation for the first time do not have an awareness of how the disease operates.
Many Hader Clinic Queensland success stories report that their initial impression of rehab was to “dry out over a few weeks” and then return to society.
For example, program graduate, Mac, says that he had “no clue” about addiction upon arrival to residential rehab for treatment.
He says, “I thought that I would go in there for ninety days, come out, and be able to drink like a ‘normal person’.
All I thought at the time was that “I drank too much”.
Now that I’ve completed the program, been in the transition house, and am in the Fellowship plus working on the “12 Steps”, that I have realised alcoholism is a disease and that I’m never going to be able to drink again.”
Understanding that addiction strengthens neural pathways the more someone uses is important.
In the early days of recovery, discipline is required to “break” those pathways using alternative positive behaviours, such as mindful exercise and journaling.
Therefore, until alternative neural pathways become further embedded in everyday behaviours, the risk is there for relapse.
Exposure to a toxic environment
Environmental factors can also drive a relapse in a susceptible individual. The addiction sufferer must realise that they need to permanently suspend communication with others that enabled their previous addictive lifestyle.
Attending AA/NA meetings and finding a new circle of friends that support recovery is vital. When a sufferer becomes disconnected from their support network, the door to relapse may be opened.
Hader Clinic Queensland Program Manager, Jay says, “addiction thrives on isolation. The opposite of addiction is connection. This support and connection is something we strongly promote.”
Sometimes, an addiction sufferer will move back into a family environment that enables using. Sometimes this will mean that in order to stay clean and sober, a sufferer may have to make difficult decisions around their family.
For example, Joe’s father offered him a beer the day he got home from rehab. Immediately Joe knew that if he was to stay clean that he needed to move away from his family.
“I moved interstate. It’s been hard. I’m looking for work. I’m attending two AA meetings a day. You never get treated like rubbish at an AA meeting”.
Failures in long term planning and management of addiction
Many people believe that once an addiction sufferer has been through a residential program, that they have been fully “cured” and are ready to go back to work, study or parenting. However, this is far from the truth.
Reintegrating into society managing potential hazards and triggers requires thought, planning, plus continual monitoring and evaluation of the sufferer to ensure they are receiving support that is individualised and optimised towards ongoing recovery.
The Hader Clinic Queensland addresses longer term recovery through the Transition Housing Program, as well as the HaderCare aftercare app, which allows a client to connect with Hader Clinic Queensland staff to receive ongoing support.
What are some warning signs of relapse?
The most obvious sign is that a sufferer begins to disconnect with the therapeutic community. They may become distant, distracted and engage in self destructive actions. If they suffer from a mental health dual diagnosis, a relapse of another mental health condition may occur, for example, an eating disorder may flare up.
If a relapse is occurring, a sufferer’s loved ones should work at holding them accountable and ensuring that their addiction is not fuelled by enabling behaviours.
While a relapse isn’t ideal, it can serve as a valuable lesson. It should also be reinforced that addiction is a disease and like all other diseases, should be treated with professionalism, empathy and compassion.
Many sufferers feel a sense of shame if a relapse occurs.
It is vitally important to highlight that a relapse may be part of the journey but isn’t necessarily the full story. The sufferer should be encouraged to move past any feelings of shame or guilt and back into treatment.
The Hader Clinic Queensland can provide help in this way.
Queensland’s only private rehab centre with ACHS accreditation
We are proud to be the only private drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre in Queensland to be independantly accredited.