Relapse Prevention Techniques

Relapse Prevention Techniques

Many individuals who make it into recovery will relapse at least once within the first few months. This is why in many treatment centers there is so much emphasis put on providing relapse prevention techniques to those who are new in recovery and those who have also relapsed already. Returning to addiction can mean many more years of additional suffering for the addict. And some people who relapse will never have another opportunity to quit and could even die due to their drug use. This is why focusing of relapse prevention techniques is so helpful; it literally can reduce the risk of relapse and death.

Relapse prevention techniques include any tool that an addict can use to avoid a return back into drug use and drinking. The causes of relapse are usually broken down into three categories. Relapse prevention techniques have been developed to combat all of them. The three categories of relapse usually are:

  • Emotional causes: This is when the addict usually goes back to using drugs because they can’t cope with their thoughts and emotions.
  • Developing unhealthy patterns of behavior, and this makes them more prone to relapse.
  • External situation can also increase the chance of a relapse. Perfect example of this would be an individual who has halfway house roommates that are all using drugs and drinking.

Another part of relapse prevention techniques is identifying different triggers which can be precursors for relapse. By identifying relapse triggers a person can find different coping mechanisms they can use to combat them all. Here are some examples of relapse triggers:

  • Feeling sad
  • Feeling happy
  • Looking at veins
  • Going to football games
  • Driving down certain streets
  • The car or wherever the individual used
  • Certain T.V shows and music

Recognizing also what precedes the relapse is also an important relapse prevention technique. These things are kind of behaviors, thoughts or ideas an addict would have before they relapsed and there is usually a pattern with these:

  • The individual can experience overconfidence . This can mean that they are not prepared when things get hard.
  • Life in recovery can take a bit of getting used and some people may experience periods of self-pity. This is a dangerous emotion because it can sap motivation.
  • Those people who have unrealistic expectations can become disappointed.
  • If the individual_ behaves dishonestly_, it can lead them right back to addiction.
  • Occasionally, people in recovery will experience periods of depression. This can take a lot of the satisfaction out of sobriety.
  • Those who continue other types of substance abuse will be increasing their chances of relapse.
  • Taking recovery for granted leads to complacency. This then means that the individual is no longer doing those things they need to do in order to remain sober.

Also knowing the different stages of a relapse because a relapse is not merely the use of drugs and alcohol again it is also everything leading up to, is another great relapse prevention technique. Here are the stages of a relapse:

  • During the emotional stage the individual will be struggling with recovery, but not actually thinking about a return to substance abuse. The most appropriate relapse prevention tools here would be those that can restore emotional equilibrium.
  • During the mental stage of relapse, the person is thinking about drinking or using drugs again. The urge to return to addiction can be strong. Various techniques are needed to combat this before it is too late.
  • All is not lost at the relapse stage. If the individual has the right resources, they may be able to return to the recovery path right away.

The Most Addictive Drugs

 The Most Addictive Drugs

A team of researchers led by Professor David Nutt of London’s Imperial College recently set out to determine which drugs were most harmful based on their addictive properties. Dutch scientists replicated the London study and devised a “dependency rating” that measured addictive potency of the biggest drugs out there on a precisely calibrated scale of 0-to-3 to see how the most addictive drugs rank.

#10 GHB: 1.71 Dependence Rating

Last on the list is a depressant and club drug that may itself be a neurotransmitter. It has cross-tolerance with alcohol—if you drink regularly, you’ll need to ingest more GHB to get high—as well as a short half-life in the body and a brutal withdrawal syndrome that causes insomnia, anxiety, dizziness and vomiting. The combination is nasty: Take a lot of GHB to make up for your tolerance to alcohol and you could be hooked.

#9 Benzodiazepines: 1.89 Dependence Rating

There’s a reason your doctor will tell you to taper off these prescription anti-anxiety drugs (Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, et al) after taking them for a while. Each one increases the effectiveness of a brain chemical called GABA, which reduces the excitability of many other neurons and decreases anxiety. Because benzodiazepines cause rapid tolerance, quitting cold turkey causes a multi-symptom withdrawal that includes irritability, anxiety and panic attacks—enough to make just about anybody fall right back into benzo’s comforting arms.

#8 Amphetamines: 1.95 Dependence Rating

Adderall users beware: Regular amphetamine including Adderall and Dexedrine might not be quite as addictive as meth, but because it acts on the same reward circuit, it still causes rapid tolerance and desire for more if used regularly or in high doses. Quitting cold turkey can cause severe depression and anxiety, as well as extreme fatigue—and you can guess what extreme fatigue makes you crave

#7 Cocaine: 2.13 Dependence Rating

Cocaine prevents the reabsorption of dopamine in the brain’s reward areas. After you use enough blow, your brain reduces the number of dopamine receptors in this region, figuring it’s already got plenty of it. You can see where this is going. Because there are now fewer receptors, stopping the drug makes you crave it—after all, the body needs its dopamine. Cocaine doesn’t destroy dopamine neurons like methamphetamine, which makes its effect less powerfully addictive, but the fast method of use (snorting), short high (less than an hour) and rapid tolerance put it in the top ten.

#6 Alcohol: 2.13 Dependence Rating

Because alcohol is legal and often consumed in social settings, alcohol addiction is complicated. But as an addictive agent, it’s remarkably simple—and effective. Alcohol’s withdrawal syndrome is so severe that it can cause death, and its effects on the brain’s reward system cause well-documented and intense craving in heavy drinkers. Regardless of the mechanism, 17.9 million Americans (7% of the US population) were classified as being addicted to or abusing alcohol in 2010.

#5 Crystal Meth: 2.24 Dependence Rating

Directly mimicking a natural neurotransmitter “teaches” your brain to want a drug—that’s how nicotine and heroin work. Crystal methamphetamine takes it to the next level: it imitates the reward chemical dopamine and the alertness chemical norepinephrine, causing your neurons to release more of both—all the while training your brain to want them more. What’s worse, the drug can damage dopamine- and norepinephrine-releasing neurons, which leads to a drastic decrease in their production, thereby making you crave more meth. It’s an addict’s nightmare and a marketer’s dream. That is why meth is one of the most addictive drugs.

#4 Methadone: 2.68 Dependence Rating

In a clinical setting, tolerance to this drug is actually considered a good thing when treating a heroin addiction. A junkie getting treated with methadone will quickly become resistant to its euphoric effects and use it to keep heroin withdrawal symptoms at bay. The problem is this: tolerance to methadone is a sign of an addiction to it and methadone withdrawal is nightmarish and longer-lasting than kicking heroin. This combination puts methadone in the top 5 most addictive drugs.

#3 Nicotine: 2.82 Dependence Rating

This might be surprising to most. But nicotine ranks high – in the top 3 most addictive drugs. The reason: though nicotine doesn’t cause the rush of heroin or crack, it’s biologically similar in a crucial way: it mimics a common neurotransmitter—so well that scientists named one of the acetylcholine receptors after it. Smoking regularly reduces the number and sensitivity of these “nicotinic” receptors, and requires that the user keep ingesting nicotine just to maintain normal brain function. There are a shocking 50,000,000 nicotine addicts in the US, and one in every five deaths nationwide are the result of smoking.

#2 Crack Cocaine: 2.82Dependence Rating

Although crack cocaine and powder cocaine have similar chemical compositions and effects, smoking processed crack causes a faster, higher rush that lasts for less time (about 10 minutes, versus 15-30 for powder cocaine). The intensity of the high combined with the efficient method of ingestion—smoking—are the big reasons why addiction rates are dramatically higher for crack than they are for snorted powder. In 2010, there were an estimated 500,000 active crack cocaine addicts in the United States.

#1 Heroin: 2.89 Dependence Rating

No surprise here: heroin’s addictiveness is the stuff of legend. As an opiate, it affects opioid receptors throughout the body and mimics endorphins, reducing pain and causing pleasure. Areas of the brain involved in reward processing and learning are stocked with tons of these opioid receptors, so when you inject heroin, you are basically training your brain to make you crave it. Pair that with nasty withdrawal symptoms and high fat solubility (which allows it to get into your brain quickly), and you have the most addictive drug in the world. An estimated 281,000 people received treatment for heroin addiction in the US in 2003, and according to the National Institute on Drug Addiction, 23% of people who have ever used heroin become addicts.

So, there you have it: the list from least to most addictive drugs.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

www.nih.gov

www.niaaa.nih.gov

http://www.thefix.com

 

 

 

What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion?

What is a Sober Companion, Sober Coach, or Recovery Coach?

A sober companion, sober coach, or recovery coach provides one-on-one assistance to newly recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. The goal is to help the client maintain total abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and to establish healthy routines outside of a residential treatment facility. Sober coaches assist with the transition from treatment back to everyday living. The sober coach will meet the client at discharge, accompany them on their trip home, and within 24 hours, attend with them their first AA or NA meeting.

What are the Duties of a Sober Companion?

The sober companion’s duties encompass a wide variety, from ensuring that the client remains abstinent to serving as a resource broker and advocate in the client’s home community.

The primary duty of a sober companion is to ensure the recovering addict does not relapse. They may be hired to provide round the clock care, be on-call, or to accompany the recovering addict during particular activities, such as taking them to fellowship meetings at which the recovery coach encourages them to meet people and get phone numbers. They work together with the client in making their home a clean and sober environment, as well support the client in following through with their recommended discharge plan.

A sober companion also acts as an advocate for the newly recovering person and provides new ways for the client to act in their own living environment. Many companions use techniques such as chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, meditation, distraction, massage, diet and proper nutrition, exercise and even prayer and affirmation of sober choices. A sober coach either completely removes the addict from his own environment of hidden stashes, or may search for hidden drugs in their own environment, in an effort to make the living environment safe for the client and to prevent them from relapsing

How Long Does Sober Companion Services Last?

Companions are available to assist clients for as long as support is deemed necessary. Sober companion treatment usually lasts for 30 days however, oftentimes, much longer. The time required to effect a meaningful change varies greatly depending upon the client, their co-occurring disorders, and the family life at home. Ideally, a companion’s presence in the client’s life will decrease as the client’s ability to confront family, work, and legal issues without relapse is proven. Some providers stay with their clients for many months, and some offer only transportation services.

The Benefits of Having a Sober Companion

The first few days outside of the structured treatment setting are typically the most critical – and most trying for the newly recovering alcoholic/addict. This transitional period is often awkward and uncomfortable for the recovering person therefore, sober companionship and coaching offers support, encouragement, and camaraderie during this crucial time.

Other circumstances for which having a sober coach is beneficial are cases where an actor or musician will not attend treatment, but must remain abstinent to complete a film or recording project. Another circumstance might be that the newly recovering alcoholic/addict is in school and thus needs to be back in their own living environment.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org

http://www.soberescorts.com/

 

 

How to Curb Cravings

In early recovery, it’s very common to experience cravings for drugs and alcohol. Drugs of abuse trigger the “reward pathway” in the brain. This is the pathway that is activated when something good happens normally- exercise, sex, and chocolate can all trigger this pathway. Drugs of abuse cause an extreme reaction in this pathway, causing an overproduction of so-called “pleasure chemicals” in the brain. Over time, the pathway adapts to the constant influx of these chemicals. It stops producing as many chemicals in response to the drugs (and any other pleasurable event) and the reward pathway also becomes less responsive to the chemicals. When the drugs are stopped or significantly reduced, the individual experiences depression, anxiety, and drug craving.

Sometimes, certain events or circumstances can cause craving. These stimuli are known as “triggers.” Triggers are anything that causes an addict to think about using drugs or drinking. Often, there are stimuli in daily life that are associated with the thought of using or drinking. Sometimes it can be driving down a road where you used to buy drugs, other times it is related to stressors like arguing with family or dealing with the death of a loved one. Thus, triggers can be external or internal. They can be related to the outside environment or they can be caused by internal thoughts and feelings. Triggers cause craving for drugs and alcohol. They cause the response that was once paired to using drugs or drinking. They even bring back drug seeking behavior. In order to successfully curb cravings, you must first identify triggers in your daily life. In some instances, you will be able to curb cravings just by avoiding certain places or situations in early recovery. Some are just common sense. For example, if you want to avoid or curb cravings, you probably shouldn’t hang out in a bar in early sobriety. Others may be specific to you.

It’s not always practical to avoid triggers in order to curb cravings, and sometimes you will have cravings that are not related to any stimuli. Often, an addict in early sobriety will have “using dreams” that cause them to crave drugs and alcohol- and we all know you can’t control your dreams. Using dreams are not uncommon in recovering addicts and alcoholics. Even some who have multiple years of sobriety still have the occasional dream of using drugs or drinking. Using dreams mean that your brain is healing; neurons that have been damaged during addiction are firing again and that produces the dreams.

The best way to curb cravings is to change your focus immediately. Calling someone else in recovery and talking about your craving or sharing about them in a meeting is the best way to curb cravings. When you talk about your cravings, it tends to diffuse them. If you can’t talk to someone right away, the best way to deal curb cravings is to do something to distract yourself. Go for a walk, go to the gym, or read a good book. When you don’t entertain your thoughts of using, they will go away more quickly.