relapse prevention

What To Do After a Heroin Relapse

An overwhelming amount of former heroin users eventually relapse. Relapse is a common set back on the road to recovery and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of it. Although it is challenging, there is an immense amount of strength and learning that can come from it. We encourage you to learn more about heroin relapse and what to do if you’re in the middle of a slip. You have the power to decide how this relapse propels you forward. Take the time to read our advice on how to handle a relapse today. 

Why Do People Relapse?

Like addiction, heroin relapse occurs in phases. During the first phase, individuals encounter certain triggers that make them consider using again. Often, internal struggle follows, in which users know they shouldn’t relapse, but feel the temptation to do so anyway. This internal struggle can become so overwhelming that they choose to relapse. Those who aren’t able to control these urges then fall back into using heroin again. 

We want to emphasize that if you or a loved one has relapsed, this is not the end of the road for you today. You can make the choice to bounce back and come back even stronger, with the help of a strong support system.

Warning Signs of a Heroin Relapse 

A heroin relapse doesn’t occur overnight. Rather, certain warning signs slowly present themselves over time. Therefore, the odds that an individual will use heroin again increases after a life-changing event makes them feel out of control. The trigger can be a significant event or an exchange with peers. It can also be an internal struggle. Everyone is different and their temptation to relapse also varies. After experiencing a trigger, an individual might stop going to therapy or 12-step meetings.

Additionally, some people make every effort to avoid relapse before finally giving in. One way is by substituting other compulsive behaviors for previous addictive behaviors. If you notice erratic changes in a loved one’s mannerisms, they could be on the verge of relapse.

Keys to Avoiding Relapse 

Often, the problems that initially led to your addiction don’t necessarily stop during recovery. Therefore, you’ll need ongoing support to help you cope with internal struggles and avoid using. For example, those with a strong family support system tend to have lower relapse rates than others. If you don’t have a support system at home, you can always reach out to a mentor or church group instead.

There are many options available to you to avoid a heroin relapse. If you don’t have a support system, we would be more than happy to be the ones to provide that for you.

Additionally, it helps to remain faithful to attending 12-step or aftercare programs. These groups provide ongoing care necessary for remaining sober. 

Most importantly, don’t hesitate to reach out if you’ve already relapsed. You may feel ashamed and overwhelmed, but please understand that there is strength in overcoming a challenge like this. Being honest with where you went wrong and taking proper steps to avoid it happening again is the next best step to take. The sooner you do, the faster you’ll prevent a dangerous overdose.

What To Do If You Relapse 

As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of people who go through addiction treatment programs go on to relapse at least once. Not only that, but many people also have multiple setbacks before finally achieving a full recovery.

You can take some comfort in knowing that you or a loved one isn’t the first one to have relapsed in their recovery process. But what are the next steps you should take? Here are some tips:

  • Understand What a Relapse is

It is important to realize what a heroin relapse is so you can be informed on what to do next. It is a setback, not a failure, and progress can still be achieved as you move forward in the recovery process. 

You hold the power to decide what a relapse means to you. It can be a huge learning experience that leaves you feeling even more motivated to conquer the recovery process. It can also cement your beliefs on why it’s important for you to stay clean.

  • Seek Help

It may be scary to reach out for help when things seem to be overwhelming and chaotic, but support is generally just a phone call away. This step may be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’ve hurt your friends and family members with your addiction in the past. 

Nonetheless, support from the most important people in your life is really crucial if you want a long-term recovery. When you approach loved ones, do so honestly and make sure you intend to follow through on your promises. If you don’t have a support system in mind, please talk to one of our specialists here

  • Stabilize Yourself 

After a relapse, you may find yourself confused and experiencing a bit of a mental fog. When relapsing with heroin, a medical detox may be necessary. It is crucial that you are properly assessed by a medical professional and DO NOT try to detox yourself.

  • Ask Yourself Why

A heroin relapse typically begins before the drug is even taken. In other words, it starts mentally first. Understanding your thought patterns and emotional responses before the drug use will be a good indication of how to prevent a relapse going as you continue your road to recovery. 

Additional Techniques to Help With a Heroin Relapse

  • Be Prepared

After a setback, a person’s guilt, shame and humiliation may begin to mentally and emotionally consume them. Prepare yourself for these feelings. You must embrace them as a tool to motivate yourself to get back on track, instead of as an excuse to hide away in disgrace, if a slip does occur.

  • Returning to Treatment

Depending on the severity of the relapse, returning to treatment can be what makes or breaks your road to recovery. With a drug as severe as heroin, it is important to take all steps possible to avoid a relapse again.

We offer many programs all customized for your unique situation. If commitment to the facility is something you don’t feel comfortable with, an outpatient program may be a perfect fit for you. 

  • Rethink How You See the Relapse

Rather than viewing your slip as a step backward, think of it as a progression on your road to recovery. Many people relapse, and it is important to understand that it can be used as a powerful tool moving forward. 

Although a heroin relapse feels frightening and like a challenge in itself, there is a much brighter future ahead if you choose to commit to recovery.

  • But Also – Don’t Get Too Comfortable

In the midst of recovering from addictive behavior, some people get caught in a pattern of repeated relapse and rehab, an occurrence sometimes called “revolving door syndrome.” In many cases of revolving door syndrome, the person isn’t entirely (or consistently) committed to a sober life, which makes going back to heroin seem like an overwhelming temptation. 

This toxic cycle of repeated relapse is dangerous because it takes a toll on the individual’s physical and mental health, sense of self-worth, and any healthy, positive relationships remaining in his or her life. The goal is to stay sober long-term which requires commitment to getting better. This commitment goes hand in hand with the action it takes to get there. Find strength in the setback to set you forward.

  • Find the Silver Lining 

A setback may feel like the world is coming down on you, but really, it’s a chance for growth and cementing basic life skills that need more work. Many people emerge from a heroin relapse with a fresh reality check regarding what they are up against, as well as a deeper commitment to truly becoming sober. 

This renewed motivation can help you come back from a relapse even more equipped than before. You have the power to learn and take from this situation a very valuable lesson. This does not make you weak. In fact, seeking help and admitting where you went wrong is an enormous sign of strength. 

Our Programs

There are many treatment programs available to make recovery as smooth a process as possible for you. These treatment programs are customized for each patient. 

We offer the following programs to help you achieve and maintain a sober lifestyle:

If you have relapsed despite successful rehab, please reach out to us today. We’re a comfortable, judgment-free setting focusing solely on helping you achieve long-term, successful results.

Contact Us Today

A heroin relapse can be frightening and leave you feeling alone and ashamed. You have the power to come back from this relapse stronger than before. Conquer addiction for good and commit to your road to recovery with a newfound motivation and set of tools to avoid relapse again. 

Regain control by undergoing heroin addiction treatment our facility. Contact us today at 866-319-6126 or reach out to us here to take the first step to lasting recovery.

References

https://www.drugabuse.gov

About the Author: Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.