Drug Addiction and Alcoholism: Relapse Prevention

Addictive behaviors do have special characteristics related to the social environments in which they originate. All of the environmental cues surrounding initial drug or alcohol use and development of the addiction actually become “conditioned” to that drug use and are thus critical to the development of the addiction. Environmental signals are paired in time with an individual’s initial drug use experiences and through classical conditioning, take on conditioned stimulus properties. When those signals are present at a later time, they elicit anticipation of a drug experience and thus generate drug craving. Trigger-induced craving is one of the most frequent causes of drug use relapses, even after long periods of abstinence. Environmental triggers help explain why reentry to one’s community can be so difficult for addicts leaving the controlled environments of a drug rehab, addiction treatment center or alcoholism treatment center. It is no wonder that so many people that are chemically dependent cannot simply return to their home environment immediately after completing their drug rehab, addiction treatment or alcoholism rehab program.

People often assume that because drug addiction begins with a voluntary behavior and is expressed in the form of excess behavior, people should just be able to use willpower to stop their drug addiction. However, it is essential to understand when dealing with addicts and alcoholics that we are dealing with individuals whose brains have been altered by their drug addiction or alcoholism. These people are in need of drug rehab or alcoholism treatment.

Observing that there are very few heroin addicts in their 50s or 60s, people frequently ask what happened to those who were heroin addicts 30 years ago. The common belief is that these people must have recovered on their own. However, studies find that only a very small percentage actually quit on their own. The rest have either been successfully treated in a drug rehab or addiction treatment center, are currently in methadone maintenance treatment programs, with the remainder being deceased. We know that, contrary to common belief, very few addicts or alcoholics just stop on their own.

In order for an individual to prevent relapse, they must make a decision to comply with the addiction treatment or alcoholism treatment regimen. Research shows us that lack of addiction treatment or drug rehab compliance is the main cause for relapse among addicts and alcoholics. Few recovering addicts or alcoholics fully realize just how diligent they have to become in following addiction treatment or rehab suggestions in order to maintain long term recovery. We encourage anyone interested to learn more about what happens in a drug rehab program and how to help someone in treatment prevent or overcome relapses.

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