Like many chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, addiction can be treated, but it cannot be cured. For this reason, addiction is a struggle that many will face for the rest of their lives to varying degrees. While some people may complete an addiction treatment program and remain sober throughout their lives, others will experience one or more relapses as they navigate the challenges that accompany lasting sobriety. Drug or alcohol use disorders are considered chronic relapsing conditions because many people will inevitably relapse at some point. There are many contributing factors to relapse, including the severity of addiction and the substance used.
What is a Drug Relapse?
When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they struggle with a range of physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms that are complex and difficult to change. Substance use leads to physical and psychological changes to the brain and many vital body systems. Depending on one’s unique relationship with substances, these changes may be difficult to manage or reverse. The deeply rooted nature of addiction is what often leads to relapse.
When someone experiences a relapse, they return to using their substance of choice after a period of sobriety. Although relapse is understood to be a moment in time, it is essential to know that relapse is not sudden. The end result of a slow return to the harmful behaviors drove the urge to use. It is also essential to be aware of the signs of relapse in a friend or loved one. Knowing what the signs of a potential relapse look like can help ensure you or a loved one gets the help they need early. Early and proactive treatment can help prevent overdose or a drug-related medical emergency.
A final yet vital fact to mention about relapse is that it is not uncommon, nor does it indicate addiction treatment “failed.” The data about relapse statistics have not improved over the last few years. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that the relapse rate for all substances is between 40 and 60%.
What Drug has the Highest Relapse Rate?
Although relapse rates for opioid drugs and other substances are indeed high, heroin (also an opioid) has the highest rate of relapse of any drug. Statistics for heroin addiction relapse are as high as 90%, according to a range of studies. Some studies suggest relapse rates for heroin addiction are even higher than 90%. Perhaps even worse is the fact that of the more than 90% of patients who experience relapse, as many as 59% relapse within one week of leaving their addiction treatment program.
If you or a loved one experiences relapse after treatment for heroin addiction (or any other addiction), it is vital to seek help when you notice any warning signs of relapse. Early help and detox support are crucial to helping your loved one manage relapse as safely as possible. When someone relapses on heroin, they are in danger of significant complications, including overdose and potentially life-threatening medical consequences. Getting back to rehab and seeking help to get back on track with your sobriety are vital steps towards resuming your recovery journey.
At a rehab like Relevance Recovery, members of our treatment team will work with you on a treatment plan that will help you get sober again while reinforcing relapse prevention skills that can help prevent further relapse in the future. Overcoming heroin addiction is hard. The impacts that heroin use has on the body and mind take time to heal. If you have experienced relapse or are worried a friend or loved one has, contact Relevance Recovery for help today.