Ohio has experienced the opioid epidemic first hand along with other states in the Midwest. Prescriptions for painkillers turned into a full-blown addiction for many OH residents, and the recovery period has been a long time coming.
For all of the publicity surrounding addiction in the U.S. right now, a lot of people still don’t understand just how much it can take over a person’s life. The current rate of Ohio overdose deaths more than doubles the national average. As of 2017, OH residents were dying at a rate of to 4,854 per year.
Residents are hopeful that new programs and a growing public awareness of the dangers of opioids will impact the number of people dying from overdoses in 2018. Treating addiction is a complicated process, and the disease itself has no cure.
One of the most destructive aspects of opioids are the staggering relapse rates that addicts face. Even going through treatment isn’t always enough to stop them from giving into temptation. This is where it becomes necessary to understand relapses, and what we can do to stop them from turning into another battle with active addiction.
Recovery and Sobriety Aren’t the Same
A lot of people are on the outside looking in when it comes to addiction. From this angle, it can be hard to understand the compulsive use of drugs and what keeps the addict going back for more. There’s also the common misconception that once an addict is sober, they’re done with treatment.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sobriety simply refers to the absence of drugs in a person’s body—it has nothing to do with the psychological side of addiction or the imbalance caused by prolonged drug abuse.
Recovery is what happens when an addict wants help and chooses to stay sober. It’s a long process that requires serious therapy and treatment programs. There’s no cure for addiction, and that craving for drugs can rear its ugly head at any time. Addicts are fighting an uphill battle, and it’s no secret that many fall back on old habits when things get hard. When an addict uses again after being in recovery, it’s called a relapse.
What Can Trigger a Relapse?
Drugs and alcohol represent a coping mechanism; a person who suffers from addiction will see drugs and alcohol to deal with their problems. They may be trying to protect themselves from traumatic memories or control how they feel. Self-medicating is a very real problem and one that can be deadly.
After treatment, a person may feel like they’re ready to take on the world. They still have all of that counseling and empowerment fresh in their minds, and they start out strong. Then life hits, and all of the problems that were there when they went into rehab are still there, but now the addict doesn’t have drugs or alcohol to cope.
If the addict doesn’t have a strong support system, active treatment programs, and the ability to use alternative coping skills—they’re vulnerable. Reaching for a needle or a handful of pills is easier than trying to face something that’s difficult. It’s also a habit that’s deeply ingrained in a lot of addicts.
Relapse triggers can include:
• A conflict
• Additional stress or trauma
• Relationship failures
• Problems at work
• Associating with active addicts
• Staying in the environment where there was drug use
• Prescription medications are given by a physician unaware of the addiction
• Mental health issues like depression and anxiety
What to Do When a Relapse Occurs
When a person relapses, they have two choices: either continue to use and fall back into active addiction, or immediately let your support system or treatment professional know so that you can work together to modify your treatment plan.
A relapse doesn’t necessarily mean a return trip to rehab, especially if the addict immediately sought help for it. It just means that the current treatment isn’t working like it should, and some things need to change.
Relapsing Does Not Equal Failure
One of the biggest mistakes an addict can make is to equate a relapse to total failure. Just like any other disease, addiction can come back with very little warning. Knowing how to look for the signs can help the addict and their support system stop a craving before it turns into drug use.
No two people can be adequately treated with the exact same treatment plans. Every person uses for different reasons, and this means that treatment methods will be constantly reevaluated for effectiveness. If something isn’t working, then change it.
Relapse is a normal part of the healing process for a lot of people; it doesn’t become a failure unless the addict has given up on their desire for recovery. That’s a decision that they’ll have to make for themselves.
Opioid addicts can suffer from extreme physical withdrawal symptoms while going through detox. These symptoms can be enough to push them back into their drug use before they even have a chance to go through therapy. Some may choose methadone treatment in Ohio as a way to get through the rough patches.
Methadone and medication-assisted treatment programs offer addicts medication that can offset withdrawal symptoms without the high. This makes it possible for a lot of opioid addicts to stop using illegal drugs when they’ve been unsuccessful on their own. Ohio has many methadone treatment facilities that have helped many addicts get sober. Getting sober is only the first step in the recovery process, but methadone helps with ongoing cravings too.
Getting Back on the Wagon
A relapse isn’t the end of the world, and you can come back from it with the right help. The most important thing is to stay focused on recovery and to be completely honest with the people around you. No one gets better without a few speed bumps along the way. It’s about being strong enough to keep moving forward.