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Addiction is a chronic disease that is incurable. Once people are addicted to drugs or alcohol, they will always be addicted, but they can live normal lives provided they learn to control their addictions. Controlling the addiction requires that addicts quit the addictive substance and stay off it for good. Quitting can be extremely tough, and remaining clean is also very challenging. Relapse prevention programs are designed to help people meet the challenge of staying clean.
Relapse prevention begins as soon as an addict makes the decision to quit. Within a few hours of going without the addictive substance, addicts will begin to feel intense cravings, and they need to resist these. Relapse prevention therapy helps them in this struggle. However, relapse prevention does not end when addicts manage to get through withdrawal because the cravings will never disappear completely, although their frequency and their intensity will tend to drop off. Addicts need to be permanently on their guard against the desire to regress, and the things that they learn in prevention programs will be invaluable aids.
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Relapse prevention therapy has many different facets. One of the primary themes in prevention therapy is the role behavior plays in addiction. Most addicts do not really understand what makes them behave in the self-destructive fashion that is typical of substance abusers. Many of the behavioral therapies that are delivered in prevention programs get addicts to analyze their participation in substance abuse. They learn about their own motivations for taking drugs or alcohol, and they also learn about their behavioral responses to differing situations.
The prevention therapy that addicts receive in the period immediately after they quit is all about preparing them for a new life that does not revolve around drugs or alcohol. Once they leave these programs, there are many other ways they find support in their battle against addiction, and they will be informed about the various options they have during their prevention program. Addicts who continue to attend recovery groups long after they have quit the addictive substance have a much lower relapse rate than those who choose not to avail of this type of help.
There are recognizable stages that addicts tend to go through before they relapse. Relapses that are sudden and unexpected are very rare. Addicts themselves, and their loved ones, should be on the lookout for pending regression. The earlier it is recognized, the better the chances of successful intervention. There are three main stages: emotional relapse, psychological relapse, and physical relapse.
This is the most difficult stage to recognize because addicts will not be contemplating relapse, and may associate their discomfort with something else. The stage is marked by lethargy and disinterest. When people try to discuss addicts’ well-being with them the addicts become defensive. Outbursts of anger or rage are common. They return to a state of self-denial.
Depression sets in, and addicts start contemplating going back on drink or drugs. When they reach this stage, regression is virtually inevitable because addicts will reject any efforts people make to help them. If they have been attending recovery groups, they will stop going. Denial disappears and addicts realize how close to relapsing they are, but they feel they have little choice. They start to plan the relapse.
They start taking drugs or alcohol again.
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