risk factors for relapse

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources

Relapse and Addiction
Relapse is generally considered to be the return to substance use after a period of abstinence. Addiction is thought by many to be a chronic illness, and like any other chronic illness, it must be managed over time. There is no cure for addiction, only managing it over a lifetime so that relapse does not occur. Statistics show that there is a high rate of relapse for opiate addiction. At one year after stopping opiates, there is an 85 percent chance of relapse. With other substances, the rate of relapse varies widely. Alcohol relapse depends on the individual, but can range from 30 percent to 70 percent. Percentages of relapse goes down significantly if the addict stays is seeking aftercare, the only proven "medicine" for long term sobriety. A powerful need to stimulate reward centers within the brain can be the trigger point for an addict who is used to getting a certain drug. Narcotics feed the receptors in the brain an endorphin called dopamine, so the brain will slow down on internal production of this endorphin because it senses it is getting it elsewhere. Dopamine is the endorphin responsible for feeling making a person feel happy. When a person stops feeding the brain dopamine from the outside source, the pills, it may take w while for the brain to kick in and produce the amount needed again. During this fragile time, a person is at an even greater risk for relapse. There are healthy ways to boost dopamine such as exercise, laughter and there are foods known to increase dopamine production as well. Internal risk factors include a persistently negative mood, feeling stressed or depressed, a genetic predisposition to or family history of addiction, and/or co-existing psychiatric problems like attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders. While significant external psychological or social stressors can play a part in bringing on a relapse, external or environmental risk factors can be as simple as being at a restaurant where other people are drinking. Even happy events can be risk factors, such as weddings, New Year’s Eve parties, and other holiday celebrations. Sometimes an addict can relapse for little, or no reason at all, making aftercare crucial to long term sobriety. Not surprisingly, unhappy events can trigger a relapse as well. When addicts are overwhelmed by external triggers, such as losing a job, problems with their spouse, or even bad weather for a couple of days, they can relapse. Health-related issues, academic problems, and difficulties with friends or family are all potential risk factors for a relapse. Unfortunately, life presents negative circumstances at times, and an addict must learn to deal with these events by replacing unhealthy coping mechanisms, like using, with healthy ones. Drug and alcohol treatment or some type of aftercare is critical to learning coping skills that can help you manage relapses. Your therapist may suggest you try constructive activities, like taking a walk, talking with someone you trust, reading, meditating, or exercising instead of using again. Often, if you do one of these activities for a period of time, you can move into a different state of mind and the addiction urge or craving will pass. If you or a loved one has had a problem with substance abuse in the past, surround yourself with supportive friends and family and seek aftercare or guidance and advice from a substance abuse therapist to help reduce your risk of relapsing. And if you do relapse at any point, the best advice is to seek support immediately, before the relapse spirals out of control Submitted by Worried878
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