How to Prevent an Opioid Relapse

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November 4, 2020

A relapse, which is a return to misusing opioids, can occur at any time during or after treatment. Successful treatment and long-term recovery involves understanding relapse symptoms and how to effectively manage a relapse if it occurs.

What Are the Three Stages of Relapse?

A relapse during recovery usually involves three distinct stages:

  1. Emotional relapse: In the emotional relapse stage, an individual is not actively thinking about using opioids, but there is a gradual process beginning to take place which increases the chances of relapse. Their behaviors during this time can include isolation, lack of sleep and lack of self-care.
  2. Mental relapse: In the mental relapse stage, the individual does begin to think about using opioids again. Mentally, they may remember places and people that they associated with and might even go as far as visiting them again.
  3. Physical relapse: The final stage, physical relapse, occurs when the individual begins misusing opioids again.

These stages do not occur rapidly. Sometimes, an emotional relapse might begin weeks to months before the individual actually enters the physical relapse stage.

How to Prevent an Opioid Relapse During Recovery

In order to prevent an opioid relapse during recovery, it’s important to develop a relapse prevention treatment plan. Your planning should involve recognizing the beginning signs as well as understanding what your personal triggers are.

Typically, what sets off the relapse stages is a high-risk situation, or trigger. If a trigger is followed up by a poor coping response, it can be difficult to stop the gradual progression toward relapse. While high-risk situations are different for everyone, some of the most common triggers include:

  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Isolation
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress.
  • External pressure (work, school, etc.)
  • Negative mood and mindset.
  • Interpersonal or social problems
  • Seeing or spending time around people or places associated with misusing opioids.

Being aware of what your triggers are can help you develop an individualized relapse prevention treatment plan.

Create Personal Coping Mechanisms to Prevent Relapse During and After Treatment

Even after you’ve completed treatment, you need to remain vigilant and not let your guard down. Recovery is an ongoing process, and relapses don’t just occur during treatment.

Having positive coping mechanisms that work for you can help ensure long-term success both during and after treatment. It’s also important to:

  • Create a healthy daily routine for an easier transition into post-treatment life
  • Build a support system (family, friends and community recovery groups)
  • Know who to contact if you begin experiencing signs and symptoms of relapsing

What to Do if You Relapse

If you do relapse, remember that it’s just part of the journey and you are not a failure. Recovery involves the process of rewiring the brain and coming up with a way to manage and overcome addiction.

Think of relapsing as an opportunity to adjust your treatment and create a more informed, individualized approach. A relapse does not mean the treatment failed. Getting professional help to evaluate and modify your plan will get you back on the road to recovery.

Receive Comprehensive, Individualized Opioid Treatment at AppleGate Recovery

Here at AppleGate Recovery, our patients receive individualized treatment plans. Our team will address and support your specific needs. Your plan, which includes medication-assisted treatment, counseling and supportive recovery services, ensures you have the tools needed to achieve long-lasting results.

To get started on overcoming your addiction, contact us today.