Relapse prevention is a vital part of the treatment of addictions. It is often however excluded from the treatment programmes of many facilities as they still refer to a relapse as a ‘failure’ of treatment or a negative outcome. It is often said that teaching patients what to do in times of relapse or just talking about relapse offers an excuse to do just that – relapse. At Nova Vida Recovery Centre we think differently. We believe that our patients are intelligent enough to understand and indications are that if patients know what to do in case of relapse they are able to cut short the using cycle and get back on track. It doesn’t happen too often for ex-Nova Vida patients and we are pleased about that.
Unfortunately addiction, similar to many illnesses, is a relapsing illness. Although many people enjoy uninterrupted sobriety others relapse. There are many reasons for this including difficulties in high risk situations, struggles coping with difficult situations, urges and cravings. But it is important to look at the individual case rather than label everybody the same. For this reason Nova Vida does not blindly put patients who have completed a 12 Step Programme within the previous 12 months back on the same track, to repeat the same work, some of which is probably still fresh in their minds. Each patient is assessed and a treatment plan put together looking at what areas of the programme need to be repeated and where they need to concentrate to avoid any further relapses.
The Nova Vida Relapse Prevention Programme is a purpose written programme for individuals who have relapsed which includes detoxification if necessary, a review of the work done in treatment before the relapse and a series of individual assignments designed to look at the triggers, thoughts, feelings and behaviours behind the relapse and how to do things differently in the future.
The specific Relapse Prevention Programme is integrated within the full group therapy programme in order to obtain the benefit of the ‘talking therapies’ and the psycho-educational lectures and workshops as well as the proven benefits of peer support. Much can be learned from sharing with newcomers who are in treatment for the first time.
Relapse from a period of recovery from addiction is unfortunately high yet with an appropriate awareness and a set of relapse prevention tools most of our patients enjoy an on-going sober life. At Nova Vida we recommend all our patients build a support network including 12 Step Fellowship meetings but we also include mindfulness as an additional extremely useful tool and this is included in our treatment programme for chemical dependency.
Mindfulness has been described as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. Nova Vida’s Relapse prevention workshops, integrated into the programme, uses mindfulness techniques that help develop a detached and de-centred relationship to thoughts and feelings, preventing escalation of thought patterns that may lead to relapse. Using increased awareness, regulation, and tolerance of potential precipitants of relapse, mindfulness may enhance ability to cope with relapse triggers, interrupting the previous cycle of automatic substance use behavior. In the event of a lapse, awareness and acceptance fostered by mindfulness may aid in recognition and minimisation of the blame, guilt, and negative thinking that increase risk of relapse.
Identification of high-risk situations remains central to relapse prevention. Patients are trained to recognise early warning signs for relapse, increase awareness of internal (i.e., emotional and cognitive) and external (i.e., situational) cues previously associated with drinking or using, develop effective coping skills, and enhance self-efficacy. Mindfulness practices are intended to raise awareness of triggers, monitor internal reactions, and foster more skillful behavioral choices. The practices focus on increasing acceptance and tolerance of positive and negative physical, emotional, and cognitive states, such as craving, thereby decreasing the need to alleviate associated discomfort by engaging in drinking or using.
Patients who wish to join this programme and who have completed any addiction treatment programme within the last 12 months need to commit for 21 days in order to give themselves the best chance of a positive outcome after treatment . Those whose previous treatment was over 12 months will usually need to commit to the full 32 day programme.
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