The Causes And Prevention Of Addiction Relapses

Many alcoholics and drug addicts do all of the hard work required to stop using their drug of choice, only to relapse and begin to use once again. There are many contributing factors that can lead to a relapse, and each addict will often have specific "triggers" that can lead them back into addiction.

Many addicts and their supporters assume that just ceasing to use alcohol or drugs is the end game, but it's just the beginning of the end of addiction. The key to successful abstinence is to find the void that drug or alcohol use fills and to replace the emptiness with healthier choices.

What are Some of the Causes of Relapses?

Addiction and relapses can result from multiple origins, including physical, psychological, and social motivations, such as:

  • Genetic predisposition. An individual may be more susceptible because of a genetic flaw, which explains generational addiction in families.
  • Physical pain. Over-prescription of opiates for physical pain has become a major factor in opioid addiction. Individuals with chronic pain may also self-medicate with illegal drugs.
  • Mental illness. Undiagnosed psychological issues such as depression or anxiety can lead to alcohol or illicit drug addiction.
  • Peer pressure. Family and friends that are addicts will often lead an addict back to using, either through direct influence or indirect comfort and familiarity with alcohol or drug use.

What are the Stages That May Lead to a Relapse?

Emotional turmoil will set the initial stage of a potential relapse. A recovering addict's brain is structurally transformed by addiction, and must gradually be restored to proper function. The life of an addict revolves around drug or alcohol, so the recovering addict has been cast adrift. Many addicts have alienated friends and family through behaviors associated with addiction.

They cannot return to the familiarity of their old hangouts and user friends. Former addicts may also exhibit poor eating and sleeping habits because of their relative lack of importance during the period of addiction. This can lead to even greater despondency.

At this point, they may fantasize about using again or seek out former associates and areas from the period of their addiction. Addicts can be self-deceptive at this point, believing that they can become casual users. 

How Can Relapse be Prevented?

The best chance of avoiding relapse is in entering a relapse prevention program. These programs offer structure, which recovering addicts sorely need as they rebuild their lives, and companionship with others who are fellow travelers on the road to sobriety. Keeping busy and staying socially connected can mean the difference between success and failure in avoiding relapses and recovering lives.

Contact a company like ONTRACK for more information and assistance.