Preventing Drug and Alcohol Relapse Through Healthy Living for You and Your Loved Ones

Many psychoactive substances have the potential for addiction, including prescription drugs, recreational drugs and alcohol. Relapses are a common part of the recovery process, especially after the initial rehabilitation period has ended. It is especially important to avoid a relapse if you've become addicted to one or multiple street drugs due to the severe criminal penalties that using or possessing these drugs carry. The psychological methods for preventing a relapse are generally similar for most drugs. Learn more about preventing a relapse by calling 1-888-319-2606 today.


drug dependenceDrug addiction generally has psychological and physiological components, both of which must be properly addressed in order to minimize the chance of a relapse. Psychological methods of treatment help patients to address the issues that may have caused them to become addicted to drugs. Psychologists and counselors generally encourage patients to live a drug-free and sober lifestyle, which may require the patient to stop associating with individuals who are drug users. Some programs also encourage patients to change any habits that make it difficult for them to stay sober.

Due to the high relapse rates among drug addicts, most treatment programs consider the recovery process to be a continuous process that does not have a specific end date. Most rehabilitation programs also promote abstinence rather than moderation, particularly if the drug being abused is illegal. Most professional therapists generally believe moderation to be unsustainable in the long-term.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the relapse rate for drug addiction is 40 to 60 percent. It recommends a treatment program that begins with medical detoxification followed by behavioral therapy and relapse prevention. The NIDA emphasizes that detox alone is not an effective treatment for drug addiction. The NIDA also recommends follow-up programs that may include services for the addict's family members. The patient's motivation is a strong factor in determining the success of any drug treatment program, regardless of the program's specific methodology. We can help you transition back into a healthy lifestyle. Call 1-888-319-2606 to discuss your treatment options.

Psychological Therapy

The types of behavioral therapy commonly used to treat drug addiction include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Multidimensional family therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Motivational incentives

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients cope with situations that are likely to result in a relapse. The goal of multidimensional family therapy is to improve the patient's ability to function within a family setting. Motivational interviewing techniques attempt to increase a patient's motivation to enter an addiction recovery program. Motivational incentives encourage abstinence from drugs using positive reinforcement.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common approach used to prevent drug relapses. Alan Marlatt describes a cognitive behavioral approach specifically in his 1985 book Cognitive Factors in the Relapse Process. Marlatt recognizes the following psychosocial processes in addiction and relapse:

  • Self-efficacy
  • Outcome expectancies
  • Attributions of causality
  • Decision-making

cognitive behavioral therapySelf-efficacy is the ability to deal effectively with situations that are likely to provoke a relapse. Outcome expectancies are the patient's expectations regarding the effects of an addictive drug. Attributions of causality are the patient's beliefs that a relapse is caused by internal factors as opposed to external ones. A patient with attributions of causality is more likely to relapse when unusual external circumstances occur. Decision-making processes involve the patient making decisions that collectively result in a relapse. Marlatt also emphasizes that some decisions that addicts make appear to be insignificant and will not cause a relapse. Marlatt refers to these decisions as apparently irrelevant decisions. The following is a common example of an apparently irrelevant decision. If a recovering alcoholic encounters heavy traffic on the way home from work, he may decide to take an alternate route home. This decision may result in a high-risk situation if the alcoholic inadvertently drives past his favorite bar. A typical strategy in cognitive behavioral therapy would be for the addict to play his favorite song. Alcoholics who haven't learned these coping skills may begin thinking about their craving for alcohol, increasing the risk of a relapse. Marlatt refers to this process as an abstinence violation effect, which is characterized by a decreased probability for avoiding a relapse in similar situations and guilt for being an alcoholic. If you want help finding the best rehab and recovery facilities in your region, call us today at 1-888-319-2606.

Medical Therapy

medical therapyMedical therapy for drug addiction is most often used for patients with addictions to opiates such as oxycodone, cocaine, heroin and morphine. Methadone is the traditional treatment for these drugs, while buprenorphine is a more recent treatment that is sold under brand names such as Suboxone and Subutex. These drugs reduce the patient's craving for opiates and are often used during the detoxification phase of a drug rehabilitation program. Methadone and buprenorphine can both be taken over a long period, which also makes them suitable for maintenance therapy. This type of therapy is especially beneficial for opiates since the relapse rate for these drugs is especially high. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia concluded in 2005 that the chance of a relapse within three months after detox is at least 79 percent. The NIDA reports that recovering drug addicts are usually able to retain their jobs and avoid the consequences of illegal drug use once they are stabilized and begin taking the proper dosage of buprenorphine or methadone. "Alcoholics who haven't learned these coping skills may begin thinking about their craving for alcohol, increasing the risk of a relapse. " Naltrexone is primarily used to treat alcoholism, although it is also used for opiate addictions in rare cases. This drug is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol and opiates; however, it does not reduce the craving for these drugs. The initial treatment of naltrexone begins in an inpatient setting after the detox phase. Patients return to the rehab facility on an outpatient basis to continue their addiction treatment using naltrexone. The primary disadvantage of using naltrexone is that it prevents the patient from receiving pain medication or general anesthesia. Find out more about preventing a relapse with medication by calling 1-888-319-2606.

Get Relapse Prevention Help Today

Relapse to alcohol and drug use is common in the recovery process. The proper relapse prevention care can make a relapse to alcohol or drugs less likely. Call us at 1-888-319-2606 for information on how to prevent a relapse before it occurs or information on how to come back from a relapse.