Did Someone You Love Relapse? Here’s a Step-By-Step Guide to Helping Them RecoverJanuary 29, 2019 - Recovery, Relapse - 0 Comments
Substance abuse is a frightening situation, particularly if your loved one had beaten it in the past but has fallen back into addictive patterns of behavior. Relapses can threaten a person’s life and force them to fall back into the grip of addiction. Thankfully, you can help them overcome this danger by following this life-saving guide.
Understand Why Relapse Occurs
Before going into our step-by-step guide for helping a loved one recover from a relapse, it is essential to understand why they occur. Some people may believe that addiction and relapse are moral problems and that those suffering from them are just bad people. This idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Others may think that those who relapse on heroin or other substances may simply want to be addicted or lack the willpower for recovery. Again, this idea is nothing but a barrier to a person’s ultimate recovery.
Instead of thinking of people with addiction as “weak” or “immoral,” it is essential to understand that drug dependency is a disease. Individuals who relapse are suffering from a sickness, much like somebody who has a cold or the flu. And like these individuals, a person with a need to use drugs may suffer a relapse of their disease. Unfortunately, a relapse in addiction is more dangerous than a flu relapse and may be life-threatening if left untreated.
Sadly, the truth about relapse is much more complicated than being a mere moral or self-control issue. Simply put, relapse is both a conscious and unconscious concern. For example, the study “Dissociation of ‘Conscious Desire’ (Craving) from and Relapse in Alcohol and Cocaine Dependence” took a look at how conscious cravings for alcohol and cocaine influenced relapse and measured their impact against unconscious triggers.
Throughout this 12-month study, they found that conscious craving was not the primary reason for relapse. Those with a cocaine addiction stated that they relapsed due to an impulsive action, one without a conscious decision or craving. Those with an alcohol addiction, by contrast, mostly reported that depression, anxiety, and other issues with mental health triggered their relapse.
These findings are very similar to those found in the study “Relapse Prevention An Overview of Marlatt’s Cognitive-Behavioral Model.” In this study, various relapse influences were discussed and examined, with the conclusion being that most relapses were caused by unconscious decisions or impulsive behaviors by those with the addiction to opiates, opioids, benzos, or other drugs.
For example, high-risk situations – such as those with alcohol problems visiting a bar – triggered many relapses. Negative emotional states, including PTSD and even boredom, also had a significant influence on relapse. Interpersonal relations that trigger negative emotions often caused individuals to abuse drugs, especially if one or more of these relationships included pressure to abuse substances. As a result, individuals fell back into substance abuse to cope with these situations and their emotional impact.
Conversely, some individuals used positive emotional states to fall back into the throes of their substance abuse. This trigger may be hard to understand for many, but it occurs frequently. For example, an individual addicted to alcohol may stay sober for years but take a drink after their favorite football team wins the Super Bowl. That one drink causes a relapse that negatively impacts their lives for weeks. While these celebratory moments might seem harmless at the time, they can trigger a severe relapse that endangers a person’s life and well being.
Unfortunately, these situations happen because individuals with a substance abuse problem have literally altered their brain’s cellular structure to reward them for taking drugs. For example, the study “Common Molecular and Cellular Substrates of Addiction and Memory” stated that “Drugs of abuse cause long-lasting changes in the brain that underlie the behavioral abnormalities associated with drug addiction.”
Essentially, they argue that excessive use of substances like methamphetamine can create a memory or pattern in the mind that reinforces drug use. Even worse, the study states that “Learning and memory and drug addiction are modulated by the same neurotrophic factors…,” which means that drugs can literally change the structure of a person’s mind to reinforce their drug use by creating a pattern of reward that makes drug use seem inevitable or unavoidable.
Fully understanding all of this information is the essential first step in helping a loved one overcome addiction. And now that you fully understand this situation, you need to know how to use it to help your loved one beat their substance abuse. The following guide will include various treatment and recovery options, including detox and dual-diagnosis, all of which provide an individual with the best chance to beat relapse and get back on the road to sobriety.
The Best Guide Through Relapse
The following steps provide the best guide through relapse for your loved one. Each stage has been carefully researched to ensure that your loved one gets the attention that is necessary to manage and prevent further relapse.
1. Offer Immediate Empathetic Attention
Empathy is the most necessary element of managing relapse. In the study, “Overcoming Obstacles to Empathy: The Use of Experiential Learning in Addictions Counseling Courses,” it was found that an empathetic approach improved a person’s chances of recovery by making them feel loved and compelled to quit.
As a result, those with a loved one suffering from a relapse need to provide caring and non-judgmental support for their recovery. Don’t blame them for the problem or scream at them about it. Instead, do what you can to make them feel supported and loved. This step may be hard – frustration at relapses is understandable – but it is essential to do correctly.
2. Remove Them From Trigger Situations
Relapses are all about unconscious triggers, as noted in the article “Common Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms in Obesity and Drug Addiction.” This study found that individuals with addictions triggered many of the same reactions common when eating food. As a result, they unconsciously craved drugs in the same way as those who are hungry want food.
As a result, articles by professionals like Psychology Today state that removing a person from their triggers is essential. For example, someone may only drink alcohol during sports games or with certain friends. Others may just abuse heroin in certain parts of the city. Keep them away from these triggers during a relapse to pull them back towards sobriety.
3. Get Medical Help for Any Health Problems
Persistent drug use triggers a multitude of short- and long-term health effects. And a relapse will cause many of these same problems to recur in a person’s life. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Victorian State Government state that relapses may cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, changes in appetite, dietary problems, psychosis, overdose, and even heart attacks, strokes, and death.
Therefore, immediate medical care may be necessary for your relapsed loved one. This care can include emergency room or urgent care visits, trips to a physical therapist, help with a dietitian, and more. These professionals can assess any issues with your loved one’s physical and mental health and help them on the path towards recovery.
4. Talk About Getting Treatment
Once your loved one has managed any physical health issues, they need to seriously consider treatment. Heathline states that a heart-to-heart about the person’s addiction, including the causes of their relapse, often opens up a beneficial connection that can make relapse recovery easier.
In some instances, you may need to stage an intervention to help them better understand the impact that their relapse has had on their loved ones. An intervention typically helps to inspire better care for substance abuse and helps an individual recover fully from this problem.
5. Research Their Best Care Options
Now that your loved one has moved past the initial impact of their relapse, you need to get them into a rehab care facility. This step is critical because your loved one needs to better understand their triggers, co-occurring disorders, and may need detox and withdrawal help during what can be a physically and mentally painful period. Thankfully, many care options are available.
Choose the Best Rehab Care Available
The trauma of substance abuse requires high-quality rehab treatment options that support a person’s ultimate recovery. There are several different methods that you can use to help your loved one recover after a relapse on substances like benzodiazepines like Xanax. The National Institute on Drug Abuse discussed each of these treatment methods, including 12 step help, and stated that an effective treatment method follows vital principles, including:
- Addiction is a disease that affects brain function and behavior
- Treatment options should be suited for each individual
- Immediate treatment is essential for their health
- Voluntary treatment is not necessary for recovery
- Each patient must be monitored for potential drug use
- All therapy options should test for dangerous infection diseases, like hepatitis, tuberculosis, and AIDS
- Full-body care – including mental health and dietary concerns – should be utilized
- Treatment length varies depending on the individual
- Mental health and behavior problems are the primary issues treated in rehab
- Medications, including replacement drugs, are beneficial for recovery
- Care plans must be adjusted, when necessary, to improve care efficiency
- Detox is useful but only one step of the process
These principles are utilized by rehab centers around the nation and include a multitude of care options. For example, behavioral counseling provides help for those who can’t adjust their actions to negate their addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral care focus on specific problems – such as borderline personality disorder – and correct a person’s behaviors to minimize their substance abuse.
For example, an individual may utilize these methods if they use heroin to cope with depression and trauma symptoms. This person will also learn ways to deal with cravings for their substances, such as meditation, relaxation methods, and positive creativity. Simply put, adjusting a person’s behavior and breaking the pattern created by substance abuse produces the longest-lasting and most effective care possible.
During this time, individuals will also receive high-quality care for their mental health, including discussing any trauma or PTSD that may trigger a relapse. For example, an individual may have PTSD after witnessing the death of their father and may turn to alcohol to cope with this depression. By better understanding these triggers, individuals who want to beat their addiction can manage their relapse triggers and stay sober for good.
Beyond these methods is the use of medications for withdrawal and relapse prevention. Relapse medications make it impossible for somebody to take a substance without getting sick or experiencing an adverse reaction. These reactions, though safe, are uncomfortable and break the pattern of reward that often causes so many relapses.
All of these care options occur in both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. A person suffering from a relapse may just need outpatient care to get through the after-effects of their immediate relapse. However, those who are struggling to stay clean after their initial relapse may require inpatient care to overcome their substance abuse. Talk to their treatment specialist to decide which model is the best for their ultimate recovery.
Find Help With Us
So if you know someone who has an addiction to benzos like Xanax, opiates or opioids like heroin, alcohol, or even methamphetamine, please don’t hesitate to contact us today to set up a life-changing appointment. Our addiction-care professionals fully understand the many types of treatment and recovery methods available and how to implement them to help your loved one after recovery.
Our specialty is dual-diagnosis, a care method that manages mental health problems that trigger addictive patterns of behavior. In this rehab environment, your loved one will face their trauma, anxiety, and depression and understand how it triggers a person’s drug use. They will also understand how substances worsen these problems and how they likely trigger PTSD.
And with the help of our excellent detox treatment program and our fully-licensed medical professionals, your loved one will go through withdrawal with minimal pain. Just as importantly, any problems with their physical health can be diagnosed and treated as thoroughly as possible. So please don’t hesitate to contact us right now if your loved one is in the middle of a relapse. You could save their life.