Substance Addiction and Relapse

 
 
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Jan. 15, 2019 - PRLog -- Relapse is one of the major problems that hinder a successful drug addiction therapy. Many individuals undergoing therapy, usually due to years of drug misuse, have a high tendency to fall back and return to their drug abuse patterns. Treatment is aimed at giving people the strength and will to take full control of their lives and cravings.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, patients have a 40 to 60 percent chance of relapsing (https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics).

Researchers are also aware that more than two-thirds of patients have a relapse episode within weeks to months of starting treatment (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18063320/). More than 85% of patients fall back into their old habits within one year of undergoing treatment (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17716056/).

Relapse And Recovery

However, research has also shown that relapse is a crucial part of the recovery process (https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery).

In fact, relapse is a reason—or the reason—most people seek help with addiction and drug abuse. Most people would have attempted quitting on their own and will seek help when they fail at it. Worse still, relapse is a gradual process that unbeknown to the individual might have begun months before the person actively uses the drug again (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/). If anything, the goal of therapy and the aim of recovery processes is to help individuals control relapse, such that it diminishes gradually.

Treating Relapse

There are two major approaches to treating relapse and at Assisted Recovery Centres of Africa (ARCA), we will combine both approaches from time to time.

Non-Pharmacological Approach

One approach focuses on the mental and emotional tolls of relapse. Individuals might start to think that they are in control; attend recovery meeting less; develop poor eating, sleeping and social habits; and even start thinking of how to use the drug without getting addicted again.

Specialists will often use one of the following techniques: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) alongside various forms of counselling and relationship therapies.

Research has shown that these methods are effective, but are better used alongside pharmacological approaches (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25939032).

Pharmacological Approach

Besides the above-mentioned coping skills, pharmacological approaches are invaluable in preventing relapse episodes. While there are numerous medications (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014020/) that can be used to in treatment, naltrexone is one of the most commonly used.

Naltrexone blocks the actions of opioids in the brain and prevents them from acting on their receptors. This way, it prevents the reward system associated with the use of the addictive substance. (http://atforum.com/documents/Naltrexone.pdf)

It has been shown to be effective in patients with opioid addiction (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11316375) and in patients with alcohol-dependence syndromes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11704620). It has also been produced as an extended-release formulation to be used in people with addiction problems (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380547/).

Seeking Help With Relapse

In an article published 2015 in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/), one of the five rules of recovery is to seek help. The truth is that patients cannot control cravings on their own.

As said earlier, most individuals will initially attempt to stop their addiction on their own. However, seeking help has been shown to result in lower chances of significantly detrimental relapse episodes, and higher chances of recovery and maintaining control (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23327504/).

At ARCA, we believe in a well-rounded approach. That is why we combine coping mechanisms that involve various non-pharmacological approaches and effective pharmacotherapy techniques in treating our patients. Our treatment methods are cutting-edge and FDA-approved.

If you ever need help, please, reach out.

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