Reasons why people relapse back into using prescription drugs
Imagine you have just had a routine surgery. Leaving the hospital with doctor’s orders in hand, you are prescribed a prescription pain killer to help ease the discomfort through the initial healing process. Some individuals fill the prescription, use the substance as directed, and never give it another thought. But for others, even appropriate use of powerfully addictive prescription medications can incite a reliance on these drugs that can spiral into a substance use disorder.
Regardless of what factors led an individual to develop a dependence on prescription drugs, most cannot regain sobriety without the support of professional help. A chemical dependence will eventually affect every part of a person’s life, from productivity at work or school, to the ability to maintain healthy relationships with friends and loved ones. Eventually, feelings of powerlessness can overcome the addicted individual and, at this point, some make the choice to enter a prescription drug addiction treatment program to work towards recovery.
When a person has maintained his or her sobriety for a given length of time, and then falters back into using his or her substance of choice, he or she is considered to have experienced a relapse. While common on the road to recovery, relapses can be misconstrued as evidence that the individual does not truly value his or her sobriety. The truth is that relapses do not signal the end of recovery, and they can occur for a myriad of reasons. Each relapse is as unique as the affected individual, but some known factors exist that are likely to contribute to this type of setback; a few of these factors are briefly described in the following:
- Unexpected stress or trauma
- Changes in routine
- Pressure from individuals who are still using prescription drugs
- Uncertainty about one’s wish to remain sober, missing parts of one’s old lifestyle
- Entering situations or places that may prompt a temptation to use
- Intense cravings for one’s drug of choice
As one prepares to exit the residential treatment setting, he or she may be concerned about how he or she will navigate situations like those listed above. Ideally one would avoid all situations that could result in cravings, but that is not likely possible. Sometimes situations arise that are impossible to predict, but by having an aftercare plan in place, individuals will have the tools and skills that will help them successfully navigate temptation.
How to prevent relapse back into using prescription drugs
The most effective means of relapse prevention is through careful planning and prevention. Quality treatment centers will make aftercare planning a priority throughout the treatment process so that individuals have a clear path to continued care when they prepare to discharge. Even if one has already experienced a relapse, there are ways to prevent an additional relapse from occurring in the future, and one need not give up on his or her goals for long-term sobriety.
Effective aftercare plans must be tailored to the person, but there are some typical recommendations that have been effective for many individuals who are exiting treatment for prescription drug dependence. A few of them are briefly outlined below:
- As you prepare to leave your treatment center, make sure you are comfortable with the aftercare plan that has been provided to you. Ask questions if anything seems unclear or an improper fit.
- Practice the coping skills you learned during your time in treatment so that you can rely on them in times of need.
- Surround yourself with friends and loved ones who have your best interests at heart. They can provide support and accountability when you are experiencing cravings or temptation.
- Join a support group to benefit from the collective support of other men and women who have also faced the challenge of drug addiction.
- Create structure in your day. During treatment you likely you had very little idle time, and creating a similar scenario upon returning home will help you avoid boredom and temptation.
- Avoid any person, place, or situation that you believe could have the potential to sabotage your sobriety.
- Make your physical health and emotional wellbeing a priority.
By practicing the above suggestions, you will have a strong foundation to remain steadfast in your desire to live a healthy, vibrant life. At Life Center of Galax, we know that aftercare planning is just as important as any other support we offer, and we look forward to speaking with you about all the ways that we can assist the men and women in our care in achieving the sober life they deserve. To learn more about options for care at Life Center of Galax, including our comprehensive discharge planning, we hope that you will contact us today.