The Challenges of Recovering from Prescription Drug Addiction
Deciding to get treatment and making the effort that is necessary to overcome an addiction to prescription drugs is a tremendous achievement that requires courage, strength, and perseverance. Unfortunately, ending one’s dependence upon prescription drugs is not a one-time accomplishment; instead, remaining in recovery is a lifelong process that demands continued work and constant vigilance.
Complicating the effort for those who are recovering from prescription drug addiction is the fact that the substances that they had been abusing are prevalent and relatively easy to access throughout the United States. For example, it is conceivable that a person who is recovering from a heroin addiction can arrange his or her life so that he or she never comes into contact with heroin or associates with anyone who abuses that dangerous opioid. Accomplishing a similar feat with prescription drugs would be virtually impossible.
As will be addressed in greater detail in the next section, access to prescription drugs is hardly the only factor that can expose an individual to relapse. With an understanding of the many pressures that can push a person back into prescription drug abuse, even after years of sobriety, effective treatment programs will dedicate considerable effort to preparing individuals for the challenge of avoiding relapse, dealing with slip-ups in a productive manner, and rededicating oneself to long-term recovery.
Reasons Why Recovering Prescription Drug Addicts Relapse
The path of recovery from an addiction to prescription drugs can be fraught with obstacles, from minor annoyances through significant threats. When a person is working to maintain his or her sobriety, though, even the smallest setbacks can, if not properly addressed, cause considerable damage.
The following are examples of the experiences and situations that, either alone or in combination, can trigger a relapse:
- Dealing with physical pain that can be treated with a prescription drug
- Experiencing stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope
- Having a distressing setback at work or in school
- Attending an event where others are abusing prescription drugs
- Experiencing a powerful urge to abuse prescription drugs
- Feeling incapable of experiencing joy or properly celebrating a success without abusing a prescription drug
- Developing anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder
- Struggling with poor self-image, low self-esteem, or a pervasive sense of failure
- Suffering the end of a relationship or the death of a loved one
- Believing that one has progressed in recovery to the point that one can experiment with prescription drug abuse without risking ongoing damage
- Being bored and wanting to fill the empty hours with recreational prescription drug abuse
Individuals often develop addictions in response to being uniquely impacted by a variety of internal and external factors, and relapse often results from a similarly personalized response to a combination of influences. An event that one person might shrug off with barely a second thought may push another person to the precipice of relapse.
How to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse Relapse
As is also the case during one’s initial recovery efforts, two important components of avoiding relapse are understanding how one is impacted by specific factors and developing healthy means of responding to these influences.
While the previous section listed a few of the many factors that can trigger relapse, the following are some of the many activities and strategies that can empower a person to avoid relapse or, at the very least, minimize the damage if one does briefly fall back into prescription drug abuse.
- When choosing a treatment program, be sure that you select a center that offers a thorough discharge planning process, and is sure to heed the advice and follow the recommendations that are included in that plan.
- Participate in continuing care opportunities, alumni programming, and other ongoing support options that are provided by the treatment program that you attended.
- Join a 12-Step support group or other community-based recovery-focused organization.
- When you have established a solid foundation in your own recovery, consider serving as a sponsor to someone who is just starting out. Supporting another person can be a strong incentive to remain strong in recovery.
- Find healthy and productive ways to fill the hours that you previously spent acquiring, using, and recovering from prescription drug use. Sports, hobbies, volunteer opportunities, and similar pursuits will limit the “down time” that can tempt you to relapse, and can also provide positive ways to channel your energy.
- Establish a strong personal support network. Recruit a few close friends and/or trusted family members who can help you to monitor your progress, intervene if you are struggling, and provide both practical and emotional support.
- Practice proactive self-care. Avoid stress to the degree that this is possible. Follow a healthy diet, get plenty of exercises, and make sure that you do not fall into a pattern of neglecting your physical or psychological needs.
- Get help when you need help. From extra sessions with a therapist through enrolling in a residential program, find the type and level of care that is best suited to whatever challenge you are experiencing. Never forget that you have many treatment options, and you are worth the effort.
To learn more about preventing or recovering from relapse, or for answers to any questions that you may have about any aspect of our programming, please feel free to contact Life Healing Center at your earliest convenience. We look forward to providing you with the information that you need in order to make the best decisions for yourself or your loved one.