Relapse, or the recurrence of old symptoms after a period of treatment and/or recovery, is one of the biggest challenges faced by those who’ve completed drug and alcohol rehab programs. While it’s logical for treatment experts to focus on identifying common telltale signs among their patients to prevent relapse, an article on Psych Central based on a report in the Journal of Addiction Medicine says that they should also watch out for signs of insomnia:
Insomnia may be linked with a higher risk of alcohol-related problems and relapse, the researchers noted. The association may run in the other direction as well — other studies have found that people with sleep disturbances are more likely to be at risk of developing addiction.
Compounding the problem, some people addicted to alcohol drink in the evening as a way to address sleep problems, the researchers reported. But it has the opposite effect: Alcohol is a well-documented cause of sleep disruption with toxic effects on several neurobiological systems, and may contribute to lasting sleep problems even during abstinence, according to the researchers.
While the research says that treating insomnia can prevent relapse, it doesn’t recommend sleep medications as a solution, fearing that patients can misuse, abuse, or even become dependent on these drugs. Treatment experts are instead advised to adopt cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs) to treat insomnia, such as those used by New Dawn Treatment Centers, a reputable Sacramento rehab facility for drug, alcohol, and other forms of addiction. Aside from helping people overcome their addictions, these facilities offer aftercare programs to prevent relapses, especially those that elicit a stronger urge to return to old habits.
Relapse triggers are usually very specific; relationship problems, high levels of stress at work, terrible flashbacks, or even post-traumatic stress disorder can cause symptoms of addiction to return. Even common stimulants, like caffeine, are known to increase the likelihood of relapse because they influence the cerebral cortex to produce greater motor activity. CBTs address these using positive and negative reinforcement by exposing patients to relapse triggers and teaching them how to respond to these stressors appropriately.
That said, sleep problems and returning to bad habits aren’t the only signs of relapse that treatment experts should be aware of. Rehab programs in Sacramento also know that compulsive behaviors, mood swings, and isolation from other people indicate that a person is suffering from relapse. These matters must be addressed early with individual therapy sessions in aftercare programs so that the recovery will not be undone.
In essence, recovering from addiction continues even after a person completes the program. Sleepless nights are just some of the things he or she may have to overcome afterward with help from specialists and family.
(Source: Insomnia in Early Addiction Recovery Ups Relapse Risk, Psych Central, November 08, 2014)