It is a known fact that addiction is highly relapse-prone. In fact, sobriety can be described as nothing but 'preventing a relapse'. In some ways, the hardest part of establishing and maintaining long-term recovery comes when the initial, intensive part of treatment has been completed.
To avoid relapse, most recovering people need to be in the warm embrace of loved ones - whether their close, biological family or the new "family" of other recovered people that they can turn to when they feel in danger of relapse.
One study identified the five factors that most often contribute to relapse:
- inability to manage stress or negative emotional states
- interpersonal conflicts with family or others
- failing to stick to the recommendations of doctors and counsellors
- negative thinking
- low motivation to change
These factors are not so different from the variables that affect relapse when dealing with other chronic disorders, such as diabetes:
- failing to stick to diet, medications, or behaviour change
- poor support from family members
- a co-occurring mental health disorder
Among other things, addicted people must learn how to avoid contact with the triggers that may set in motion their brain's demanding cry for drugs or alcohol. And when those triggers are unavoidable, people must develop the skills that will prevent the craving from taking over. Learning these skills must be a core element of any treatment program; maintaining them should be part of an aftercare program or long-term recovery plan.
At Hope Trust, lot of emphasis is laid on relapse prevention. From education about relapse to learning the tools to avoid a relapse, to evolving individual strategies for preventing relapse, all clients are optimally prepared to keep sober.
"Aftercare is just that," says Santosh, addiction therapist at Hope Trust. "It's a continuing care that you really need to be involved in if you're going to survive this. If you just leave after the residential program and you don't go to meetings and you don't get involved with a sponsor and a group and a commitment, you're going back in no time at all. You can't resist the temptation."
"I cannot emphasize enough the role of the aftercare contract and the aftercare program," says Dr. Prasad, resident medical officer and counsellor at Hope Trust. "It's been the key to success."
Prior to discharge, clients at Hope Trust are provided 12 Step contacts in their areas for follow-up. They are also encouraged to keep contact with the centre and their primary counsellor via email and social media (Facebook and twitter). Moreover, they are welcome to come and share at Hope Trust's in-house 12 Step meetings. And they are also recommended to visit after 2 months for a formal session to address ongoing challenges in their personal journeys of recovery.