Drug rehab programs follow a general pattern: an addict or alcoholic admits that they have a problem and asks for help or is mandated to get help, and then typically they will enter a detox program to manage the physical process of withdrawal. After detox most people attend a drug rehab program such as Inpatient Treatment, Outpatient Treatment or Day/Night programs. However, what a lot of people don’t understand is that while completing one of these programs is a monumental achievement, it is nevertheless only the beginning of the road to recovery.
Relapse is a significant threat to anyone in recovery, even long after they have completed a drug rehab program. Consequently, addicts and alcoholics must develop and work a daily plan in order to minimize the risks to their sobriety. This includes behavioral and environmental changes, along with the development of a strong support network. These skills and resources are provided during a drug rehab program such as an inpatient treatment center, but are the responsibility of the addict to maintain after the program has been completed. In order to mitigate risks, people in recovery must understand the two major threats to sobriety: P.A.W.S. and Denial.
P.A.W.S. or Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is a condition that occurs immediately after detox or Acute Withdrawal. PAWS is different for everyone, but in general causes emotional, mental and physical symptoms that can make it hard to stay sober. For some these symptoms continue for months after treatment, for others years, and some people don’t report PAWS symptoms at all.
Treatment of PAWS after drug rehab can be accomplished in a number of ways but is primarily based in education. This education is provided in a treatment program and will help and addict to identify triggers and recognize the signs of PAWS. Symptoms can be relieved with appropriate medication, via therapy, exercise, or other enjoyable activities.
Denial is also often the cause of a relapse. Denial can make an addict feel like their previous drug use really wasn’t that bad, or that they could use again without consequences, or that they can just use when they want to and not let it get out of control. Denial might also cause them to engage in certain negative thought patterns, such as feelings of inadequacy, depression and sadness, and in some cases feelings of rage and anger.
Like PAWS, denial is also treated with ongoing therapy, proper exercise and nutrition, and through various support networks including 12 Step programs and other recovery-related groups and organizations. However, it’s important to note that in order for denial to be effectively controlled, there must be other people in the addict’s life that can help to provide a different perspective. This is a critical need because the very nature of denial can make it almost impossible for a person in recovery to fight urges to use on their own.
Because there is no cure for addiction – only treatment – it’s obvious that drug rehab is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning and exercising the right choices to remain on the path to sobriety. However, relapse is often a part of this lifetime process. If you or someone you love has recently relapsed, please take action right now by calling the number at the top of your screen. The sooner you get help, the better able you’ll be to get your life back on track. Call us now – day or night – we’re standing by to help.