Tag Archives: relapse

Turning Off Stress-Induced Relapse

Stress-Induced RelapseSobriety can be an elusive thing for many recovering drug addicts. Oftentimes addicts will undergo a period of treatment or abstinence and then seemingly out of nowhere, a relapse occurs. These sometimes-frequent spells of returning to drug use can plague an addict and their loved ones until long-lasting sobriety is hopefully achieved. What is it that causes these relapses? And do they have to be part of recovery?

In order to answer these questions, a team of researchers at Brown University and the University of Wyoming created a study that would examine the biology of a relapse. They began by focusing on the kappa opioid receptors (kORs). These receptors are located on the surface of the brain and are the ultimate target of opioids when they enter the body.

Next, researchers moved to a different part of the brain – the ventral tegmental area. This area of the brain reinforces behaviors related to fulfilling basic needs. Basic needs can include eating and sleeping. But in the brain of the addict, this basic need also can include drugs. Through extensive research, the scientists were able to see that stress can induce this part of the brain to excite the kappa opioid receptors, thus causing the person to seek out drugs.

So, while stress is oftentimes a precursor to relapse, there may be hope. That is because these scientists expanded their experiment to show what happens when certain medications are administered to a person who is experiencing stress. After administering norBNI to rats that were abstinent from opioids for some time but in the midst of experiencing stress, the researchers observed that the kappa opioid receptors were disengaged, no longer producing a craving within the rats.

While this research is still new, it does confirm previous studies that have showed that stress is a problem for maintaining sobriety, but these researchers have taken it a step further with the introduction of a potential medicine for treatment. “Ours is the first demonstration of experience-induced changes in constitutive activity of these receptors,” explained the authors of the study.

In addition to treatments like the one above, many more people are also opting for different approaches to dealing with stress in recovery. One growing movement is rooted in mindfulness-based practices, where there are many forms of exercises and meditations that help people become more consciously aware moment to moment, thus having greater control over their actions.

Relapse a Reoccurring Problem with Many Addicts

For those that are not addicted to drugs and/or alcohol it can be a wonder that some addicts continuously go back and forth between being sober and abusing drugs. Sometimes this rollercoaster can go on for years,. While this may seem strange to some people, it is quite a normal phenomenon to others.

Experts agree that oftentimes the addict needs to be ready and willing to handle his or her addiction before any real progress can be made, but that doesn‘t rule out an intervention. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A successful intervention results in a better family dynamic as well as the individual willing to get better. This milestone can prove to be quite challenging to arrive at without the right help, especially because addicts spend most of their life shutting everyone and everything out with the help of their drug of choice.

Avoidance of people and problems allows addicts to continue on their path to destruction. The drugs help them to not care what loved ones and family members think and feel. “When you’re addicted, you’re in love with drugs, alcohol or both and the rest of the world be damned. So it’s very self-centered,” explained Candace Hodgkins, CEO of a treatment center.

Drugs are often used as a blocker – the addict may initially seek out prescription painkillers to block pain, but eventually the pills become useful to the addict because they also block guilt, mental anguish, fears and stress. This mechanism is the same for all drugs and alcohol, yet the very substances that they feel are helping them are continuing to make everything worse.

Relapse occurs when the addict has been clean for a certain amount of time and then goes back to the same drug pattern that was present prior to treatment. The good news is that there are warning signs that relapse is on the horizon, and most successful treatment centers offer relapse prevention tools to both patients and family members.

Generally, when someone comes out of a treatment center they are given a strict calendar of continuing therapy of some type. This may include outpatient treatment, regularly attending AA or NA meetings, individual counseling or even getting and maintaining a job. If the addict stops doing these things then that is typically a sign that they are flirting with a relapse. Responsibility has a lot to do with maintaining sobriety. Additionally, the cessation of communication, angry outbursts and unexplained disappearances are signs that a relapse may have already occurred.

If you would like more information about successful rehabilitation options and tips on preventing relapse after treatment, contact us any time.

Drug Court Judge Admits Struggles with Substance Abuse

justiceAn interesting development in Broward County, FL recently revealed that a judge in a local drug court, Gisele Pollack, had fallen back into substance abuse after many years of being in recovery. The issue raises a concern for some people regarding her ability to do her job effectively, but on the other hand her honesty and seeking treatment may prove her to be even more qualified in the eyes of others.

The situation brings up a larger issue surrounding professionals in certain positions and whether or not they are afforded the same opportunities as others when they make mistakes. In this case, is it more of a policy issue, the subject at hand or the principle irony?

It is likely that prosecutors may feel that she will become too sympathetic with people who have broken the law and not hold them accountable for their actions. How she personally deals with this and performs professionally will be key, knowing that her actions will be scrutinized now more than ever.

For now, Judge Pollack has been allowed to continue her work on the circuit in the drug court. Whether or not she will continue to do her job and have people trust her will remain to be seen. What wasn’t revealed was to what extent her relapse had gone and whether or not a temporary leave of absence would have been better.

If she is successful in her treatment and able to maintain her professional duties, she would serve as a living example of the hope she tries to instill in others passing through her drug court – that problems can be corrected and people can reform their ways with the proper guidance.

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