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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Questions from our readers: What are the statistics for overcoming Heroin addiction?

Nick's heroin addiction (1991)Image via Wikipedia

Well there are many variable factors that must be taken into account when looking at someone's ability to overcome any addiction. There is a significant risk of relapse for addicts of Heroin and other substances if the following situations are in place:
  1. Returning to the same lifestyle
    In almost every recovery process an addict has to make huge changes in their lifestyle. In some cases an addict has to make radical changes which may include disconnecting from old friends, changing jobs, and avoiding or cutting off ties with family members that regularly use drugs, and alcohol. Some addicts choose to move from their homes and/or their state in order to assure their continuing sobriety.

  2. Maintaining friendships with users and dealers
    Addicts usually can not maintain friendships with anyone associated with their former life that were directly a part of their descent into addiction. This means friends, partners, dealers, family etc. Continuing connections with these individuals almost always results in a relapse with an addict.

  3. Financial dependance on former enablers
    Enablers do almost as much damage as a drug dealer does to the addicts ability to stay clean. Enablers should stick to offering emotional support and encouragement only and can not get back into the enabling role where they support the addict financially. It is too easy for both addict and enabler to slip back into the old habits. Enablers often need counseling themselves to help them come to grips with their very specific reasons that they choose to continue helping an addict in their illness. Many times enablers lack the proper tools and understanding to be able to suddenly quit helping an addict. Enablers are often caught in some sort of addiction themselves to the addict and their lifestyle and cutting off from that addiction for the enabler is often very difficult as well. This is why addiction is referred to as a “family disease.”

  4. Failing to continue with counseling and recovery programs
    Once an addict is released from treatment they return to life and leave the safety of a controlled setting. This is where the real challenge begins in their success story. Many addicts will not maintain their sobriety when they stop attending counseling and recovery programs. Add this to a lack of familial support, goals and lifestyle change and you have all the necessary components to assure relapse.

  5. Exposure to old triggers
    The first six months in an addicts life are the most precarious. Returning to old haunts, passing by familiar stomping grounds, seeing the same friends they got high or drunk with are all known triggers for relapse. Triggers must be avoided at all costs especially early in the recovery. There may be circumstances that force an addict to still encounter certain triggers beyond their control. In these cases it is imperative that the addict have a strong support system and maintain contact and attend meetings and aftercare programs regularly to help them with this problem. 
  6. Lack of strong support with family and friends
    It can't be said enough, recovering addicts need a strong support system for their success. This may mean a certain amount of sacrifice on everyone's part. Sacrifices may mean avoiding drinking or certain activities yourself that may affect an addicts ability to stay clean and sober. Family gatherings generally have to be alcohol-free, even if your addict has never been an alcoholic, many that relapse simply switch to a new substance to become addicted to.

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