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Substance use disorder (SUD) is frequently described as a brain disease with many patients returning to substance misuse at high rates after treatment. “Substance use disorders are chronic, relapsing conditions,” writes Lloyd Sederer in The Addiction Solution. “We have to expect relapse.”
Although we have to expect it, we should not accept it as unavoidable, of course, because any relapse can be life-threatening. That is why so many addiction professionals put so much effort into enabling clients to recognize the warning signs early on before the relapse becomes dangerous.
Last year, something called “the new sobriety” took off in a big way and that trend shows no signs of abating. “No longer do you have to feel left out or uncool for being sober,” declared Alex Williams in the New York Times.
The holidays are a notoriously stressful time for everyone, and especially so for people in early recovery from addiction. Many people relapse during or immediately before the holiday season—so it’s important to be extra cautious and friends and family should give them as much support as they can.
Physical or sexual abuse by a parent or close relative. Watching a family member shoot up heroin. The anxiety of worrying about mom or dad in prison. The danger of gun violence. Too many American children are confronted with these kinds of traumatizing experiences every day. They can have a devastating impact on their long-term health.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is defined as “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain.”
Although his father had severe alcohol use disorder and both his grandfather and his uncle had died as a result of their alcohol misuse, Borchert succumbed to social pressure when people told him drinking liquor will “make a man out of you.”
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat certain substance use disorders and prevent opioid overdose. MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers. Because the FDA-approved medications are themselves opioids, MAT is controversial in the addiction treatment community. Many people in recovery do not regard MAT patients as “clean and sober” if they are still taking opioids, even as a prescription.
While public health officials have focused on the opioid crisis in recent years, and states have pursued litigations against the makers of prescription opioid pain relievers, another epidemic has received far less attention. Methamphetamine abuse has been surging in the United States, leaving first responders and addiction treatment providers struggling to handle the escalating crisis.