Heroin Relapse Prevention & Recovery

Recovery from Addiction

Learn about heroin addiction recovery

Overcoming an addiction to heroin is a tremendous accomplishment. An individual who has shown the courage to get help at an addiction treatment center, and who has then invested the time and energy that is necessary to walk the path of recovery, has demonstrated considerable strength and dedication.

Unfortunately, victory over heroin addiction is not a one-time achievement. In order to remain in recovery, a person must devote considerable effort and focus toward the task of protecting his or her health and resisting the obstacles and enticements that can lead him or her back into heroin abuse.

One of the first lessons of rehab for heroin addiction is that this disease, which is known clinically as opioid use disorder, is a chronic condition whose symptoms can be managed but not cured. One of the many reasons why the saying “one day at a time” resonates so deeply with members of the recovery community is that these five simple words serve as a stark reminder that one must continually rededicate oneself to remaining drug-free.

Effective heroin addiction treatment programs, in Virginia, understand that getting professional care from a reputable addiction treatment center, is just one step on the long path of recovery, and that any effort to help individuals achieve long-term success over heroin addiction must involve empowering them to resist relapse.

Regardless of whether it is inpatient, residential, or outpatient treatment center in Virginia, completing any kind of treatment does not mean that a person is cured. In the years that follow an individual’s completion of treatment for heroin addiction, his or her continued sobriety will face countless threats. Maintaining recovery is a matter of preparing for these threats to the greatest degree that is possible while also continuing to hone the skills and strategies that will allow one to respond to unforeseen challenges.

Reasons Why People Relapse

Reasons why people relapse back into using heroin

The likelihood that a person will develop an addiction to heroin can be altered by a wide range of genetic and environmental factors, and his or her risk of relapse can also be affected by various internal and external influences. The following are just a few of the virtually innumerable events and experiences that can precede a relapse into heroin abuse:

  • Experiencing stress that overwhelms one’s coping abilities that were learned during rehab
  • Developing an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, or other mental health disorder
  • Surviving or witnessing an attack, assault, or other traumatic event
  • Losing a loved one, either through death or the end of a relationship
  • Enduring a particularly distressing professional setback, such as being demoted, laid off, or fired
  • Struggling with low self-esteem, poor self-image, or pervasive hopelessness
  • Believing that one’s recovery is strong enough that one can occasionally dabble in heroin abuse without long-term negative repercussions
  • Attending an event where heroin is available
  • Associating with individuals who abuse heroin
  • Making a major life change such as starting a new job or moving to a new city
  • Being bored and wanting to once again experience the “thrill” of acquiring and using heroin

As the list above indicates, relapse can be triggered by both major life events and experiences that, on the surface, appear to be little more than minor annoyances. One of the many reasons why a person must remain so vigilant in protecting his or her sobriety is that ignoring these “small setbacks” can allow internal pressures to build up to the point that a person finds him or herself suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to numb his or her psychological pain via heroin abuse.

Also, life rarely presents challenges in an easy-to-manage, one-at-a-time order. Having to deal with multiple simultaneous challenges and crises of various levels of intensity can strain a person’s coping abilities. Thus, preparing ahead of time and continuing to use the relapse-prevention skills that one learned while in rehab can be essential to maintaining one’s continued health.

How to Prevent Relapse

How to prevent relapse back into using heroin

Different individuals will be impacted by triggers in different ways. Thus, in addition to understanding the many general types of triggers that can push a person into relapse, it is important for individuals in recovery to identify the particular triggers that may pose the most significant threat to their continued recovery.

Ideally, the best way of dealing with triggers is to avoid them. However, in many cases, this may not be a viable option. In such situations, the following are among the many ways that a person can resist the urge to use heroin even when encountering obstacles on his or her recovery path:

  • When selecting a treatment center for heroin addiction, choose a program that offers discharge planning services. When you have completed rehab, be sure to follow the recommendations that are included in your discharge plan.
  • Participate in your treatment program’s alumni organization and take part in any other continuing care or ongoing support opportunities that the center offers.
  • Join a 12-step group or another recovery support organization in your community. Being accountable to this group will encourage you to remain accountable to yourself.
  • Find a healthy and productive way to fill the parts of your day that you previously spent acquiring and abusing heroin. Sports, hobbies, and volunteer activities are good ways to channel your energy and eliminate the empty hours that, if left unfilled, can tempt you to return to bad habits.
  • Practice your self-care and stress-management skills on a daily basis. Do not wait until a crisis occurs or until you feel overwhelmed. Be proactive in the effort to protect your health and wellbeing.
  • Follow a healthy nutrition plan and get an appropriate amount of exercise.
  • Develop a personal support network with a small group of trusted family members and/or close friends who can help you to monitor your progress and provide both emotional and practical support.
  • Get professional help from a license addiction treatment center when you need it. From residential treatment through traditional outpatient services, you have many options. Never be ashamed about accessing the type and level of care that meets your needs.

To learn more about preventing or recovering from relapse, or for answers to any questions that you may have about any aspect of treatment at Life Center of Galax in Virginia, please contact us at your convenience. We look forward to helping you make the most informed decisions for yourself or your loved one.

The Life Center of Galax provided the safe, supportive treatment I needed to overcome my heroin addiction.  I will forever be thankful for the incredible help I received!

– Gary
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