Events & News

Relapse happens, but treatment works

4/2/2018

            The woman never had a drug problem until she was in her 40s. She had suffered serious injuries in two separate accidents and was on several medications over a lengthy period of time (Percocet, Vicodin and oral morphine). She didn’t think anyone could tell there was anything wrong. She was ashamed and put off seeking help for a while. But she was a stakeholder in her family’s future and took the steps to get help. She didn’t intend addiction. It happened. She can’t make it go away. She works to better herself every day. She has recovered her life.

            Many who begin the process of recovering their lives after addiction do not have an easy road to travel. Research shows that 75 percent of substance use disorders patients, including opioid users, relapse and use again. Relapse is the deterioration in someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement. The individual, after a period of recovery, resumes the use of the drugs that caused so much trouble for them. It’s not about free will. It’s about the changes in the brain caused by drug abuse.

            NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) explains that relapse is when a person in recovery makes mistakes, feels bad and starts using again; the return to using drugs. This is common, normal and happens a lot, at least once for many. It takes practice to learn how to live without drugs.

            Those people who have never had a drug addiction problem are unlikely to understand why the problem happens to begin with. All the person had to do was not take drugs that everyone knows are harmful. But it isn’t that cut and dry, as Nora Volkow, director of NIDA explains in a number of videos at YouTube, which you can access at https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/directors-page.

            When a person in recovery backslides, it is important for that person to get back into treatment as soon as possible. Sometimes it requires many times before it works because the addiction, that drug that so affected them, is so hard to resist.

Relapse can be dangerous. Resuming use after that period of time during which they are in recovery can be dangerous because the body is not used to the dosage they were using before and overdose is a very real risk.

            Here are a few suggestions for helping someone in treatment:

  • Find treatment services and information.
  • Offer rides to treatment and support groups.
  • Remind the person to take the medications the doctor has given them.
  • Help them find a place to live, if they need one.
  • Help them find a job, if they need one.
  • Find things to do that will take their mind off drugs.
  • Help them avoid places and people that might tempt them to take drugs again.
  • Talk to them about their feelings and drug cravings.
  • Understand if they relapse, and help them get back to treatment quickly.

If there is a drug problem, it is essential to find medical treatment and to get into a drug and counseling treatment program. Treatment works, but it take time.


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