Opiate addictions stay true to form when it comes to fulfilling the definition of addiction as a disease. Chronic opiate use can deteriorate brain and body functions in the same way as diabetes and cancer. This “disease effect” affects the mind as well as the body, leaving recovering addicts at risk of relapse for years into the recovery process.
While it may seem like a loss or failing, a relapse after opiate addiction treatment is common, and almost to be expected. At this point, the most important thing you can do is get back on the recovery horse.
Opiate addiction treatment programs deal with all stages of the addiction process, with relapse being yet another stage. For some people, picking up where they left off in recovery may be all it takes to get back on track. For others, it may be time to look into other types of opiate addiction treatment.
Causes of Relapse
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, an opiate addiction leaves a lasting imprint on the brain’s chemical processes and functions. These effects can leave a recovering addict susceptible to relapse for years to come. Causes for relapse vary as daily life pressures, interpersonal conflicts and seemingly insignificant events can all act as potential triggers for resuming drug use.
Certain other factors and conditions may place a person at increased risk of relapse, some of which include:
- Co-occurring conditions, such as depression and anxiety disorders
- Poor coping skills
- Little to no social support to stay drug-free
- Lack of commitment in recovery
What Happens Now?
While it may seem like starting from square one, getting opiate addiction treatment after relapse can help a person identify problem areas and take steps to strengthen his or her recovery efforts.
Ongoing Psychotherapy Treatment
Addiction has more to do with a person’s thinking and behavior than it does the physical effects from the drug. Likewise, relapse episodes result from destructive thinking patterns that eventually affect a person’s behavior. As part of the opiate addiction treatment process, psychotherapy enables recovering addicts to uncover the underlying issues that drive addiction behaviors.
Getting needed psychotherapy is one of the first things to look into after a relapse. This may require weekly or even biweekly sessions to ensure you get a handle on the triggers that caused relapse to happen.
Opiate addiction treatment can also take the form of daily attendance at 12-Step meetings as far as therapy goes. These meetings can provide valuable day-to-day tips on how to prevent faulty thought processes from taking hold.
For people with long histories of opiate addiction, ongoing drug cravings and withdrawal effects may continue to threaten any attempts at recovery for months or years to come. As a form of opiate addiction treatment, medication-assisted therapies help to support damaged brain functions affected by long-term drug use.
Medications, such as buprenorphine and methadone have a solid track record as effective opiate addiction treatments. According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, these drugs help to relieve the cravings and withdrawal effects that so often drive those in recovery to relapse. For many addicts, medication therapies become the only means for maintaining abstinence and living a drug-free life.