Fighting Off Relapse

Making a change and maintaining it are both important for recovery from addiction. Sometimes, people who have undergone rehabilitation and other treatments for drug abuse don’t stay abstinent. This is called a relapse, and is common enough that relapse prevention has become part of the services offered by substance abuse treatment centers.

Relapse happens when a person takes steps in the direction of returning to addictive behavior. Within the process are several opportunities to adopt ways of thinking or acting to counter the urge to return to the habit.

The probability of staying sober increases the longer the individual practices abstinence from the substance involved. In the first year, it’s 36 percent, then increases to 66 percent on the second year, and 86 percent on the third year. After five years, the person will likely sustain the recovery.

In relapse prevention plans, patients are taught skills for coping and problem solving so they can fight off “triggers” – feelings and other elements that cause them to be vulnerable to relapse. Each individual will have unique triggers so each plan is designed and developed to cater to the individual’s needs. In general, a healthy and active lifestyle is recommended for preventing relapse. This includes a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise.


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