Opiate Addiction and Relapse Prevention

Last modified: September 16, 2013 10:19:41 AM

Relapses occur on the road to addiction recovery

Opiate addiction is a very strong disease and recovery is not something instantaneous; sobriety is a process that has its ups and downs, and relapses are painful bumps in the recovery road that can sometimes occur.  A person who is trying to kick a opiate habit must not get discouraged if a relapse does occur; a relapse does not mean total failure and full recovery is still possible.  As the saying goes, if you fall off the wagon, dust yourself off and get right back on again.

However, this does not mean that relapses are inevitable.  Relapses can be prevented if certain steps are taken and if certain behaviors are changed.  Here is some advice from the famed Mayo Clinic of the U.S. that can help you prevent a relapse.

  1. Do not go into high-risk situations.  If all of your friends happen to be people that you used to take drugs with and are all still using, make new friends who don’t use drugs.  Hanging out with the old crowd will make you susceptible to peer pressure and you might actually feel a physical craving for the drug (dependency).  Similarly, don’t go to places where you used to take drugs and find new, drug-free places to go.  You might miss your old crowd and familiar surroundings, but your health is more important.  Soon you’ll be enjoying your new friends and environment so much, you won’t miss your former pals.  However, do be supportive of former friends who have also given up the habit.
  2. Keep seeing your psychotherapist/ attending meetings.  One of the best ways to prevent a relapse is to stick to your treatment plan and attend regular therapy sessions or AA-style meetings.  While you might feel that you have fully recovered and don’t need any more help, studies show that those who continue their therapy after rehab on a regular basis are far less likely to relapse.
  3. Speak to your doctor or therapist immediately if you feel strong urges to use again.   You may be directed to further treatment to help you deal with your cravings.  If you are prescribed certain medication, make sure you follow the doctor’s orders to the letter; the medication you’ve been given might help suppress cravings.
  4. Contact your doctor or therapist immediately if you do start using the drug again.  Your doctor or therapist may put you back into rehab so that you can get on the right track again.  While a relapse is disappointing, it does not mean that you cannot make a full recovery, so try again; remember that many people have been able to achieve sobriety and lead productive, happy lives after an addiction, but it may have taken them several attempts.