Drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment programs are only the first step in a process of addiction recovery. Being successful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires continuing to work toward that goal over a long period of time.
Lapses and relapses are unfortunately common among people who have been in a rehab center because addiction is a chronic disease. However, learning and practicing all of the skills that are taught in a treatment program will make the occurrence of these things less likely and easier to manage.A lapse is when an addict uses drugs or alcohol one time after they had committed to themselves that they would practice a lifestyle of abstinence. If the situation is deal with appropriately and quickly, this can be a one-time event that doesn’t have to be repeated. After a lapse, an addict in recovery should immediately seek additional help from a support group or addiction professional in order to prevent a recurrence.
A relapse, on the other hand, is more serious. This is when the person returns to full-blown drug and alcohol abuse after they have been through a rehab program and made a commitment of a sober lifestyle. They resume their old patterns of behavior associated with the addiction. At this point, in order to be in recovery again they will need to get help in a residential treatment center, preferably for a period of at least three months.
Dealing with lapses and relapses as quickly as possible will make it much easier move past them. Even using the substance of abuse one time is dangerous because it makes cravings immediately return in full force. An addict’s body remembers the patterns of alcohol or drug abuse from the past, and reacts in the same way as when they were in the midst of addiction.