Addiction Treatment: Relapse Prevention

Dr. Purushothaman
January 12, 2014


Addiction treatment centers and alcohol rehabs are most successful when they focus on the issues that cause recovering addicts and alcoholics to relapse. However, many treatment centers focus on the wrong issues, don't address enough issues, or offer too many useless programs that ultimately have nothing to do with treating addiction. So while it may be quaint for a treatment center to offer a sauna or equine therapy or acupuncture, these extracurricular activities actually do nothing to prevent a relapse. Instead, drug rehab centers with proven success records focus on two primary areas in order to prevent relapse for life: management of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Denial Management.
Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is a series of symptoms a person experiences immediately after they have detoxed from a drug or alcohol. PAWS is generally caused by over-activity of previously inhibited neurons in the brain. Neurological pathways that were built to cope with the addictive behavior remain long after a person stops using and leads to sometimes severe symptoms that can cause a person to relapse in an effort to self-medicate. Symptoms of PAWS often exacerbate one another and include a profound inability to concentrate, inability to organize thoughts, memory loss, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and significant problems with physical coordination.
Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome usually begins right after detox and in most cases lasts for 3-18 months. However, many people report much shorter duration of symptoms (as little as 2 weeks) and some report PAWS symptoms for two years or more after the last time they used a drug or drank. This poses an extreme risk to recovery because these symptoms must be recognized and managed long after a person has left an inpatient treatment center or outpatient treatment program.
Denial Management is also critical in order to provide an addict with all of the tools they need to secure their own recovery one day at a time for the rest of their life. Denial management seeks to address a lifetime of self-denial, self-lies, lies to others and gross exaggerations of what the truth really is- or really isn't. Addicts and alcoholics lie about so many things for so long that lying essentially becomes a way of life. This type of thinking must be reversed in order for a person to remain clean and sober.
Both Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Denial Management are treated similarly, as issues caused by PAWS or denial often blur lines. One of the most intense and successful addiction treatment centers, Recovery First's drug rehab in Florida, provides comprehensive PAWS treatment and denial management. This includes a rigorous program of individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, experiential therapy, exercise, meditation, exploring spirituality, and recognizing high risk people, places and situations. Additionally, this in-depth program teaches stress coping skills, assertiveness skills and refusal skills  all essential in order to remain free from drugs or alcohol.
Relapse prevention is a lifelong issue that must be addressed at multiple levels. Recovering addicts are given complete responsibility for their own recovery, so if you feel like you need help and fear you might be in danger of relapse, then use the links below to call us confidentially right now. Don't wait- you could be one phone call away from the difference between salvation and a life-altering relapse.

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