Avoid Triggers to Prevent Drug Relapse

As Horace, the Roman lyric poet, once said, “Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor.” This quote is apt for someone trying to give up illicit substances. It is an uphill task for a chronic substance abuser to abstain from an addiction and thereby prevent relapse. It has been found that usually some form of stimuli, which drives a person to engage in addictive behavior, triggers most of the addictions. In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), these “triggers” are referred to as the “five Ws,” when, where, why, with and what, or simply known as people, places and things, since they remind an individual addicted to substances about his or her compulsive drug-seeking behavior.

However, psychologists view relapse as a common attribute of addiction and do not consider it as an indicator of failure. When a person hooked on substances quits them suddenly, he or she is at a high risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms and increased drug cravings. A prolonged substance abuse disrupts the neuronal pathways of the brain and alters the pathways linked to pleasure, rewards, impulse control and decision-making leading to complete dependence. Therefore, in such cases, relapse may be a form of self-medication.

Clearly, relapse is a stepping-stone to recovery and should never be considered as the end of the road. In fact, it is an indicator that treatment needs to be tweaked or reinstated as the intensity and duration of the medication or therapy largely depends on the gravity of the relapse.

Coping strategies to counter triggers

Several studies have demonstrated that stress is a common trigger for relapse. CBT is an effective tool to cope with both external and internal stressors in order to avoid a likely relapse. According to a study published in the journal Psychiatric Times previously, “CBT may actually help to improve a person’s neurobiological circuits in the brain. Depression, anxiety, and mood fluctuations are common side effects of addiction and withdrawal, and CBT can help to smooth out some of these symptoms by teaching strategies to manage them.”

In addition, a well-monitored inpatient treatment program can be highly instrumental in avoiding any instance of relapse. The main purpose of such a program is to ensure that new coping strategies and mechanisms are firmly rooted in the patients before they are discharged from the rehabilitation center. The longer the patient stays under observation in a rehab, the better it is for his or her future sobriety, as the brain gets sufficient time to rewire itself.

Medications are equally important during the detoxification process since they can be helpful in regulating mood swings, managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing drug cravings. A comprehensive and holistic drug abuse treatment program includes both therapy and time-tested pharmacological processes to minimize relapse and arrest triggers.

Apart from proper sleep, diet and physical exercise, other complementary methods to combat relapse are:

· Yoga: Techniques to enhance breathing and stretching go a long way in managing stress, reducing possible cravings and improving mental health.

· Mindfulness meditation: Self-awareness through meditation helps to identify and handle potential triggers in an effective way.

· Acupuncture: Needle therapy administered by a trained professional can be beneficial for the bodily functions and also help minimize cravings.

· Massage therapy: Massage or touch therapy aids blood circulation, which is linked to mental functions.

Leading a drug-free life is possible

Historically, addiction was viewed as a sign of moral weakness. However, evidence-based scientific research has shown that an addiction is a mental disorder, on par with other ailments such as asthma, high blood pressure and diabetes.

If you or your loved one is seeking to break free from addiction, you may get in touch with the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline to know about the best addiction treatment centers in Colorado. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866–218–7546 to gain information on various treatment options in different rehab centers in Colorado. Our representatives can connect you to the best addiction treatment programs in your vicinity.