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San Diego Sober Living - Recovery

Strategies for Preventing Relapse

In May 2023, the founder of the popular blog Dooce, which focuses on life advice for American mothers in the Generation X cohort, was found dead at her home in Utah. Heather Armstrong took up blogging in the early 2000s as a personal project that featured her musings about balancing work, relationships, spirituality, and addiction recovery. Dooce started off as a “mommy blog” that only took a few years to start generating more than $40,000 per month in advertising alone. Armstrong battled with alcoholism despite her success, and she had been sober for nearly two years before suffering a major relapse that tragically ended in suicide.

The Dangers of Relapse in Addiction Recovery

Heather Armstrong succumbed to the worst outcome associated with relapse. The deep guilt felt by individuals who relapse can spark severe depression. This can in turn exacerbate self-destructive behavior. The risk of a fatal or critical overdose is substantially higher during relapse. Although many alcoholics and addicts who relapse eventually get back on the right track toward recovery, the psychological damage they endure could persist or even become permanent.

Understanding Lapses & Relapses

Let’s say a man in recovery is invited to a family picnic at Mission Beach Park in July. If he pairs his grilled tacos with a beer and has another one after playing in the waves, that’s a lapse. If he falls off the wagon, stops going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and gets drunk every day for more than two weeks, he has effectively relapsed. Mental health specialists who work in addiction recovery know 70 percent of patients will lapse at some point. This in no way suggests they’ll relapse. The recovery rate tends to be lower after relapse, particularly when patients fall into severe depression.

Relapse Prevention in Addiction Recovery

The AA adage about working through the program “one day at a time” can be distilled into a strategy for preventing relapse. As mentioned above, lapses can and will happen, but relapse episodes must be avoided through daily effort. Every aspect of an addiction recovery program aims to prevent relapse, and there are various strategies to this effect. For example, sober living homes, such as Encinitas sober living housing, provide a structured lifestyle ideal for transitioning from a life of chemical dependence back into society. Residents of these facilities participate in programs specifically designed to minimize and mitigate the risks of both lapse and relapse episodes.

Managing Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

Relapse is more common among alcoholics and opioid addicts because their conditions can bring about physiologically painful cravings. Severe withdrawal can be treated with various medication regimes as well as with talk therapy augmented with psychedelics. The use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to attenuate withdrawal symptoms is effective in many patients. Those who have become dependent on opioids and opiates may need to go through a long-term modulation program to gradually reduce harmful cravings.

If you’re newly sober and you need help with avoiding relapse, call on the compassionate team at Casa Pacifica. Along with providing men’s sober living in Encinitas, we work with our individual residents to develop customized plans that integrate treatment, aftercare, and recovery support. Our services include sober companionship, coaching, and mentorship for those who are recovering from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. For more information about our sober living facilities, call us today at (760) 230-2996.

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