Addiction is a devastating disease that reaches far into every aspect of a person’s life, including their relationships with their family, friends and coworkers. Often when someone enters drug treatment, they aren’t just doing it for themselves, but also the people they care about most. While a person should feel proud and optimistic upon completing treatment, it’s important to acknowledge that the potential of an addiction relapse exists.
It’s equally important that the people closest to them understand the potential of relapse and how to respond if it happens.
What Does a Drug Relapse Mean?
Watching someone you care about battle addiction and then relapse can be heartbreaking. You are probably wondering what drug relapse means for the person you care about.
An article published by the National Institute of Drug Abuse takes an interesting perspective on addiction relapse. In the article, addiction is compared to any other chronic health condition – such as heart disease or diabetes. In most cases, a full-on cure doesn’t exist. However, with proper management, the disease can be controlled, and its effects on the person’s life minimized.
Similarly, the rate of addiction relapse is said to be comparative to the relapse rate of other chronic conditions. Relapse can happen when a person doesn’t follow the protocol for disease management or when a new approach needs to be taken. A relapse doesn’t signify the end of the road, but rather an opportunity to learn how to better help the addict maintain lifelong sobriety.
Recognizing the Signs of a Drug Relapse
As someone close to a recovering addict, it’s important that you’re able to recognize the signs of a drug relapse. The earlier that a relapse is identified, the better the chances are for helping the addict recover before their addiction completely spirals out of control.
The early signs of a drug relapse are often subtle, growing more obvious as the addiction becomes more significant in the person’s life. Signs of a drug relapse include:
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Behavioral changes, especially in stressful situations
- Lack of interest in usual activities
- Engaging in occasional use with the justification that they can control consumption
- A preoccupation with the “good times” such as partying or friendships that are no longer present since seeking treatment
- Self-destructive behaviors of putting themselves in triggering situations
- Failure to meet with support groups or follow their aftercare plan
- A reemergence of withdrawal symptoms
- Noticeable body changes like weight loss, weight gain, tremors, slurred speech
Helping Someone Through a Drug Relapse
An addiction relapse doesn’t mean that someone is weak. It means a person is struggling with a serious illness and will need a reliable support system. Helping someone through a drug relapse isn’t an easy process, but it’s important that people closest to the addict show compassion and empathy, rather than shame or implying that they’ve been let down by the person suffering a relapse.
The responsibility of overcoming the relapse is on the person with the addiction, but there are also several ways to help them through the process.
- Avoid shaming
- Encourage them to get back into treatment, making the initial contact if necessary
- Don’t enable them and stay committed to not accepting excuses
- Be prepared for an emergency, such as an urgent trip to a treatment facility or the local emergency room
- Help them research new treatment facilities if necessary
- Considered an intervention, and talk to a counselor about providing an ultimatum if you feel that you’ve reached your limit
- Stay optimistic about future recovery, especially in the presence of the addict
- Have open discussions about the type of support they need to maintain sobriety
- Take care of your own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing
Treatment for Addiction Relapse in Yardley
If you’re concerned that someone you care about is at risk of an addiction relapse, the best thing you can do for them is putting them in touch with treatment for addiction relapse in Yardley. You should never assume that a recovering addict will be able to overcome a relapse on their own just because they’ve already been through treatment. Seeking relapse care as soon as possible increases their chances of success with long-term sobriety.
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