In the world tradition of trying to understand why drug addiction happens and experimenting with new ways to nip it in the bud, the latest research study out is discussing the whys and wherefores of relapse that occurs after years of sobriety. The goal of the research was to discover new therapies that would save the government, families and individuals lots of money in care, lost productivity and crime by preventing relapse in recovering addicts and alcoholics. And it looks like they may have made a few discoveries that could help them reach that goal.
The Brain and Relapse
Florey Neuroscience Institutes’ Professor Andrew Lawrence says that the circuits in the brain have a lot to do with a recovering addict’s susceptibility to relapse: “From a human clinical perspective, the big problem with addiction of any form is that it’s a chronic disorder, characterized by persistent vulnerability to relapse.”
It seems that, in the briefest terms, neurons in the brain play a big part in pleasure and reward, which is connected to addiction. The brain wants to experience the pleasure and reward effects caused by taking drugs and when you get a visual, emotional or aural cue that signals that you need a pleasure and reward boost, the neurons respond and the individual begins to crave their drug of choice.
Now that we have a clue as to how the trigger for relapse occurs in the brain, there will likely soon be a great deal of research surrounding how to help addicts fight this chemical response.
Does Everyone in Recovery Relapse?
Says Lawrence: “If you think about human addicts simplistically, they fall into two categories: those who seek assistance and undertake rehabilitation, and those who try to withdraw alone, cold turkey. Irrespective of which category they fall into, most addicts still relapse.”
Fighting Relapse Now
Until they come up with a magical pill that allows those in recovery to simply walk away from drugs and alcohol and never look back, fighting relapse will have to happen the good old-fashioned way: through hard work and dedication to a personal program of recovery and patience. Here are some tips to fight relapse that you can practice in everyday life:
- Know your triggers. It’s hard to know what to avoid and when you’re entering dangerous territory if you don’t know what your triggers for relapse are.
- Create a support network. Supportive family and friends, peers in recovery, therapists and group session leaders, even your hairdresser and your trainer – have people you can call when you feel wobbly.
- Have a plan. When you feel triggered, know where you will go and what you will do instead of relapse.
If you have relapsed and you feel like you need some follow-up drug addiction treatment and relapse prevention, contact us today. We can help you find a drug rehab program that can help.