Every comprehensive drug treatment program depends on a number of individual components working together in unison. From the early stages of intervention and medical detox through to the later stages of behavioral therapy and relapse prevention, every piece of the puzzle needs to be in place to give people the best chance to attain sobriety.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recognizes four components in every comprehensive treatment program: detox, medication treatment when needed, behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention. Relapse prevention helps people to reintegrate with everyday life following formal treatment and gives them the skills and support they need for long-term recovery.
Relapse is also referred to as recidivism, a term used to describe the recurrence of a medical condition. When it comes to drug treatment, recidivism describes the situation that takes place when someone returns to drug use following a period of abstinence. Relapse prevention techniques and systems are designed to prevent this from taking place, with behavioral and cognitive methods utilized to change behavioral responses. Roughly 50 percent of patients return to drug use following formal treatment, a rate that is almost identical to that for other chronic diseases. This statistic lends weight to the disease model of addiction, with relapse prevention programs often approaching drug addiction as a disease.
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Relapse can be seen as both an outcome and a process, with most treatment programs using a progressive approach as people experience different stages of it. The first step is often defined as emotional, with this phase marked by unhealthy and out-of-place emotions. People who are going through an emotional lapse are likely to feel sadness, anger, frustration, isolation and fear as they attempt to stay away from drugs and engage with the recovery process. While people might not be thinking about a return to drug use during this stage, their emotions are leading them that way unless action is taken. Mental relapse is the next stage, with people now actively thinking about relapse scenarios. Common signs of mental relapse include lying, spending time with old friends, and planning relapse events. Unless action is taken at this stage, a physical return to drug use is likely.
An intervention is any orchestrated attempt to get someone to accept professional help for a drug problem. Interventions often take place at the outset of drug treatment, with the family and friends of drug addicts confronting them and trying to get them to accept help. Additional interventions may also be required, however, with interventions also held following a physical relapse event. The ARISE model of intervention and the Systematic Family model of intervention are two of the most common approaches in use today, with both of these models coming from the original Johnson model developed in the 1960s.
While the ARISE model is likely to use a soft invitational approach, the Systematic Family model uses more direct and confrontational methods. While there is some controversy surrounding the long-term effectiveness of interventions for drug or alcohol problems, they continue to help people across the United States. Professional interventionists are available from some drug treatment centers, with counselors able to advise family groups on the best way to proceed prior to an intervention event.