The path to lifelong sobriety is sometimes a rocky one, and even for the most diligent recovering addicts, relapse, or a return to drug use after a period of recovery, is a common occurrence. If you know someone who has experienced a drug relapse after rehab, and you want to know how you can help, call the addiction recovery experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services at (888) 982-0865 to find out more about substance abuse treatment and what happens after a relapse.
What is a Drug Relapse?
Understanding what a drug relapse is and why it occurs can help reduce the chances of a relapse occurring. Unfortunately, research shows that most addicts relapse at least once, and many do so multiple times. And while relapse may seem like an utter failure to a recovering addict and his loved ones, it doesn’t have to mean the end of recovery. Research suggests that 70 to 90 percent of all users who try to get sober experience at least one mild to moderate slip, while approximately half return to heavy use. In other words, it is extremely uncommon for an addict to walk into a rehab facility, determined to get sober, and never use drugs or alcohol again. The trick to moving past a relapse is recognizing the drug-related cues that triggered the relapse and learning how to avoid these cues in the future.
What Causes a Relapse?
To a recovering addict, a relapse “trigger” is anything that the addict associated with previous drug use and therefore generates a sudden desire to use when experienced. A trigger can be any type of drug-related cue, such as a song, a person or a place that reminds the addict of past drug use and prompts a craving. For some addicts, seeing drug paraphernalia or visiting places where they’ve scored drugs in the past triggers a powerful desire to use, which is why treatment programs typically advise recovering addicts from staying away from people, places, and things from their past drug use to avoid falling back into old habits. During the early stages of treatment, it is imperative that addicts learn to recognize their triggers so they can avoid them and prevent a relapse, thereby improving their chances of long-term sobriety.
So, what causes a relapse, then? According to the findings of one study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2010, drug use actually alters the connections between the reward center and memory hubs of the brain. This means that the brain becomes hardwired to react to certain drug-related cues, or triggers, which can make achieving lasting sobriety incredibly challenging. According to lead researcher and senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Joanna Fowler, Ph.D., the addicts involved in the 2010 study “all had a blunted dopamine response. This reinforces the idea that drug abusers experience diminished feelings of pleasure, which drives their continual drug use.”
Contact BRS Rehab Today for Help
Research has shown that the greatest percentage of relapses occur during the first 90 days of recovery, as the recovering addict attempts to overcome the impact drug use has had on their brain and body. In addiction recovery, being aware of potential relapse triggers and learning to avoid them long enough for the brain to repair or overcome the rewiring that drug abuse causes, is the key to lifelong sobriety. If you or a loved one has experienced a relapse after rehab, contact the experts at Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at (888) 982-0865 to speak with a certified addiction recovery counselor about your options.