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Addiction is a disease that’s both chronic and relapsing. Chronic means that it can’t be cured. Relapsing means that once it’s in remission, using drugs or alcohol again, which is known as a lapse, can quickly trigger a relapse of the addiction, and treatment will be needed again to break the physical addiction and address the underlying issues that led to the lapse.
Relapse prevention programs are designed to educate patients about the stages of relapse and equip them with skills and techniques to prevent lapse and relapse. Relapse prevention is a critical part of both drug and alcohol addiction treatment and the aftercare program that’s set in place after treatment is successfully completed.
Relapse prevention techniques are based on decades of research into why people lapse and what they need to know in order to prevent it from happening. Not every relapse prevention technique will work for every patient, and that’s why these programs teach a wide variety of both traditional and alternative skills, strategies, and techniques to prevent a lapse or relapse from occurring.
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Relapse occurs in three stages, rather than as a single event.
Relapse prevention programs provide patients with essential education about the fundamental elements of relapse prevention, which include:
Some of the research-based techniques for preventing a lapse include:
Swift intervention after a lapse is essential for preventing a relapse of the disease. After the successful completion of treatment, an aftercare plan is individualized and implemented to help prevent lapse, and once a lapse has occurred, the aftercare plan will need to be re-evaluated to include drug rehab.
Some of the interventions that will likely take place after a lapse in sobriety include a short time spent in a rehab facility to get back on solid footing, an increase in the number of individual, group, and family counseling sessions, and increased monitoring by an aftercare case worker.
Those who lapse will work in substance abuse treatment therapy to identify and address the triggers that led to the lapse, which may include unrealistic expectations, an inadequate aftercare plan, ambivalence toward sobriety, unhealthy relationships, and high levels of stress.
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