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Heroin Relapse Prevention: Different Approach to Stay Clean

Even though it may be disheartening to think about, there are patients who have a setback after heroin recovery treatment and find themselves using again. The important thing to remember is that once it has happened – there is nothing you can do to take it back. However, the one thing that is within the user’s control is the fact that they decide where to go from there. Withdrawal is a particularly difficult time. Keep in mind that addiction psychology is an ever-evolving field. Whereas a few years ago we viewed relapse as a deal-breaking disaster, many counselors now reframe it as a teachable moment. This does not mean that falling back on old habits is encouraged, but rather means that staying positive is a far better option.

A Different Approach and Relapse Rates

The statistics are not always positive, a large number of patients who enroll in drug rehabilitation for heroin addiction find themselves relapsing. In fact, the heroin relapse rate rests somewhere around 75%, according to the statistics. However, given that it is an addictive illicit substance able to wreak havoc on a user’s life; what would be the best option if a setback does occur? Just a few decades ago, recovery was all or nothing – the only thing that mattered was whether the patient remained 100% sober, anything less than that was tantamount to giving up.

As you might imagine, this “all or nothing” approach makes it very difficult for people in recovery to admit that a mistake did happen. Oftentimes the minor backslide that was nothing more than an isolated incident, became a full-blown relapse. After all, why does it matter if you use once or 20 times when you feel people brand you as a failure for both? What Increases the Odds of a Setback in Recovery? There is more to heroin relapse prevention than just going through the motions. Patients are vulnerable to a relapse, especially early in recovery.

The following are a number of common triggers that you will want to be aware of:

  • It is socially available – Granted, when you head to the local 7/11 for a can of soda you are not likely to be tempted by illicit substances in the next aisle over, but this means that patients in recovery must not associate with friends who still use illicit substances. There are certain places and people associated with drug use. Whether we are referring to friends, places, or particular situations, it is something to give up for sobriety.
  • Different Approach to Stay Clean
  • Feeling socially isolated – This seems strange, you cannot hang out with your old friends, but must still be socially active. This is one of the main reasons that many recovery programs advocate for an aftercare program.
  • Triggers – There are certain sights, smells and sounds that the former user may associate with using drugs. Be sure to remove paraphernalia, pictures and anything else related to the previous drug use. It is also a good idea to avoid compensating by using other drugs or alcohol. Just because you are not using heroin, that does not mean that you should numb your system with alcohol.
  • Stress – Stress is one of the main reasons people turn to illicit substances and it is one of the main reasons they relapse as well. Whether this is work, school, personal relationships or family; stress can lead to the desire to use again. This is why a long-term recovery program will help the patient find new ways of dealing with their stress instead of having to rely on illicit substances.
  • Boredom – Remember that most long-term users need to find an entirely new way to make it through the day. For those struggling with addiction before, the day revolved around purchasing drugs, wondering how to pay for it, using it and then recovering from it. The process would repeat itself daily. People need to find a way to fill their day after a successful recovery program. Keeping busy is an important factor in heroin relapse prevention.

Signs that May Indicate Someone is Using Again

Sometimes you cannot stop a setback during treatment. Perhaps it is already too late in that particular situation. However, being vigilant of those signs can make it easier to determine whether someone has relapsed. If that does happen, you are able to provide assistance where possible and inquire about re-entering a treatment facility.

  • Hanging out with old friends – As previously mentioned, old habits die hard. Sometimes long-term users in treatment will once again associate with the same people that they either bought drugs from before or used drugs with, before. If you know or suspect that these old friends still use illicit substances, it may be indicative of a setback in treatment.
  • Isolation – Most people will isolate themselves if they are unable to remain sober. The reason can be twofold: shame for not having succeeded in recovery on one hand and the desire to keep using on the other. If a personable patient suddenly isolates him- or herself from people again, chances are that something may be wrong.
  • No longer following treatment plans – Anyone who leaves a long-term recovery program is going to have certain treatment plans. These can be different depending on the facility that the user enrolled in, but the plans are there, nonetheless. If you notice that the patient stops following those treatment plans altogether, it may indicate a problem exists.
  • Changes in eating, sleeping and energy levels – People who abuse opioids are often described as lethargic. They will barely eat, sleep at weird hours throughout the day and show a decreased amount of energy in normal daily activities. In fact, they may even stop performing specific daily activities, altogether. This may also manifest itself in a lack of hygiene and the person no longer eating regularly.

Offering Help

Even with determination and support, the heroin relapse rate is still very high. By avoiding the situations mentioned previously and keeping a close eye on the person in recovery, you can do your part in heroin relapse prevention. If you have additional questions about staying clean, heroin relapse rates or anything that was mentioned here, do not hesitate to call right now. Trusted Heroin Rehab is here to help you with any potential questions you may have.