Treatment is not an instant cure. It takes time to overcome addiction or manage it so users can lead normal lives. Relapse is an ever-present risk to recovery. The highest risk period for relapse is the first year following completion of treatment.
Certain circumstances, both social and psychological, can increase the risk of relapse in a heroin user:
- Psychological stress – it is the opinion of many in the medical field, that stress is perhaps the main predictor of relapse.
- Negative emotional states such as depression.
- Interpersonal problems
- Lack of social support
- Poor coping efforts
- Decreased commitment to abstinence.
All of these factors can be avoided or managed with a successful aftercare programme. Equally, relapse after a period of abstinence can occur suddenly with no or very little warning. Access to immediate expert advice can act to save lives and prevent relapse.
Relapses can occur, but it is imperative that the correct form of support is accessed immediately afterwards to prevent the problem spiralling out of control.
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