Opiate Addiction: Heroin Addiction Treatment and Relapse Prevention
We all fall back in life, and we berate ourselves for failure. The ability to conquer a challenge, to prove ourselves or achieve a goal are what many consider success stories. When we become addicted to a substance such as heroin, the steps to overcome that addiction can seem overwhelming. But relapsing back into heroin use is not a failure. There is no one-way street for recovery. This setback in the recovery process is simply another part of the journey.
Why Heroin Addiction Relapse Occurs
Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs out there. It works by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, and it effectively changes your brain, making it harder to turn down the substance that gave you pleasure. As addicts build up a tolerance, they require more heroin to get the same result. Every heroin addict can tell you about their first high. While it is their body that craves the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms, it is the mind that remembers the pleasurable aspects and asks for more. The physical and physiological needs are just two reasons why relapse rates for heroin addicts are so high.
Behavior patterns also play a large part in heroin relapse. Falling back into old patterns and hanging out with the same people who were fellow addicts can lead to a relapse. Being subjected to the same triggers without developing coping strategies can cause a relapse. Stressors such as family dynamics and other personal relationships, mental and emotional problems, career and financial stress, can all play a part in interrupting your recovery.
Replacing the memory of that first heroin high with hope is a start. Forget about the statistics, too. This is your journey. Sometimes you need more help to avoid a relapse, or you need to take a different course of action. Addicts often have to try different treatment modalities to see what works for them. Your way might be sharing through a peer support group. For someone else, it may be one-on-one therapy. Nature, exercise, or spirituality may also play a part. When you put your treatment in the hands of caring and experienced professionals who will take the time to learn about you and what works for you, there is a much better chance of moving forward after a relapse.
Recovering from a Relapse
Heroin addiction is a chronic disease, and it is often accompanied by co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health conditions. For addicts who have had a relapse or experience chronic relapses, it may be because the underlying issues contributing to their addiction haven’t been treated. You may go through a detoxification, but if the anxiety, stress, or unresolved emotional issues that made you vulnerable to addiction aren’t addressed, you are likely going to continue self-medicating. The beginning of your sobriety starts through medically supervised detoxification and then a full assessment and evaluation of your specific challenges, needs, and goals. A customized program in a residential treatment facility that addresses the underlying causes of your addiction is a strong preventative measure against relapse.
Recovery is a lifelong process, and a comprehensive treatment program can include everything from medication to holistic and experiential therapies such as meditation, music or art therapy, and yoga. Many people find that engaging with a group of their peers in a 12-step program helps keep them on the sober path. A treatment facility that offers ongoing care such as access to sober living facilities and a comprehensive outpatient program with family support and ongoing therapy and group meetings offers you the best chance for maintaining your sobriety. Relapse is only one small step back, but it’s not back to square one. For every time you fall back then move forward, you gain knowledge, learn lessons, and become stronger.