A commonly known fact amongst drug users of all types is that it’s really difficult to kick a habit. The desire to get clean is prevalent, yet the ability is non-existent. Obviously, this is the time when rehabs and treatment centers are the most valuable resource for addicts. Unfortunately, it does require at least some co-operation on the part of the addict, to actually get there in the first place.
The success rate for addicts remaining clean and sober after leaving institutions depends on the addict finding the necessary help to support their recovery so that they may continue to live a clean and sober life: ideally one which is both enjoyable and full.
Relapse is a part of addiction. No single addict gets clean without several; it’s the nature of the beast. Having finally got some time and distance from drugs whilst in rehab or a therapeutic community, the addict’s tolerance to drugs is decreased, yet cravings persist.
Immediately after undergoing detoxification is a time when the addict is most vulnerable. Battling cravings on a minute to minute basis is normal after initially kicking drugs. Very slowly the thoughts of drugs occur less frequently: once an hour and then progressively until the cravings become more spaced out to once a day or once a week. These weeks and months are a crucial time. Living with raw nerves, sensitive sensory and emotional perceptions of the world are extremely magnified.
Once clean and sober, addicts think that they can return to their former, life without any trouble, but addicts in early recovery are not known for their wisdom. Oftentimes their previous life and livelihood may center on friends who may use casually or a job, which revolves around entertainment or hospitality. Many bartenders, strippers or restaurant workers are alcoholics or addicts. That said there are some who are also in recovery. Some who are working constantly on their recovery with full awareness of the pitfalls they may face. This is extremely hard to do in early recovery. The environment of nightlife is a toxic magnet for addicts, surrounded by temptation.
A less obvious yet more prevalent danger is the habit of hanging out with old friends or socializing in the same way as before going to rehab. Newly clean addicts are still susceptible to poor judgement We need to create new healthy habits and this comes with time and hopefully before our disease takes over. Should this happen and we think we can use; the fatal error is to return instantly to a pre treatment dose which could result in a drug overdose. It’s just way too much for a clean body to take. Heroin or other opioids will cause a respiratory system shutdown; cocaine or speed will send a surge to your heart, which it cannot sustain. Either way, the risk of death from accidental overdose is extremely high.
The antidote to drug overdose from heroin and other opioids is Narcan, which has to be administered quite soon after the overdose in order to reverse the effects of the drugs.
The key to relapse prevention is to seek out a strong support system in recovery. Finding like minded people who are clean to be friends with as well as moving towards making healthier choices for ourselves, with the help of others if needed, will provide the best situation to prevent relapse and in turn an accidental overdose.