Opiates are used for treating pain caused by surgery, injury or a chronic condition. Using the drugs in larger amounts or for longer periods of time than prescribed by a physician can lead to addiction. Recreational or experimental use also leads to addiction and often does so at a much faster rate. Opiates are highly habit forming, as they work by binding to receptors in the brain and changing the way the body perceives pain and pleasure.
If you or a loved one uses these drugs and struggles with abuse, dependence or addiction, getting help through rehab is the best way to begin recovery. When recovery begins with effective, comprehensive treatment, relapse is a possibility. Recovery that does not begin with treatment and a solid foundation for life-long success is unlikely to last long. As Psychology Today shares, “Approximately half of all individuals who try to get sober return to heavy use, with 70 to 90 percent experiencing at least one mild to moderate slip.” This fact isn’t shared to discourage you; it is shared to show that relapse is not the end of recovery. Many people have relapsed, and many of these have bounced back and found healthy, stable lives. Certain triggers such as stress, relationship difficulties or cravings can result in relapse. Even if relapse occurs, it is not the end of recovery, and many instances of relapse can be avoided or quickly overcome by utilizing skills, tools and resources gained in treatment.
The following five steps can help you or a loved one bounce back after opiate relapse:
- Practice coping strategies learned in rehab. The coping strategies you learned in rehab are important tools to put into practice each day. Coping strategies are important for more than just relapse prevention. Even if you have relapsed, coping strategies can help you get back on track.
- Identify your relapse triggers. Remembering the relapse triggers you identified in rehab can help you understand why relapse happened and how you can avoid it or quickly overcome it the next time.
- Forgive yourself for making mistakes. Recovery slip-ups don’t have to turn into a full-blown relapse. Forgiving yourself for mistakes along the way and talking about them with your counselor or support group can get you back on the right track.
- Attend support group meetings. Members of your support group can speak from relapse experience and help you understand how to move forward rather than get stall in your recovery progress.
- Get back to your plan. Your treatment program should have designed and implemented a treatment plan, and before you left treatment, you should have received a plan for the future. If you relapse, get back to this plan. Attend extra support group meetings, schedule additional counseling session or go back to rehab for a refresher. Recommit to staying clean, and move forward in your life and recovery.
With tools, skills and strategies in place for a life of recovery, you can overcome relapse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, “Most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.” A relapse is not the end of recovery; it is just the beginning.
Finding Help for Opiate Addiction
Take positive steps and bounce back from relapse. Call our toll-free helpline to begin or renew your recovery. We are here to help 24 hours a day, and all calls are free and confidential.
 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201210/why-relapse-isnt-sign-failure. “Why Relapse Isn’t a Sign of Failure.” Psychology Today. 19 Oct 2012. Web. 21 May 2016.
 https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dec 2012. Web. 21 May 2016.