The Disease Model of Addiction
The disease model of addiction states that addiction is not a matter of choice but rather is an actual diagnosable disease that is contributed to by the person’s:
- Genetic background
- Brain chemistry
The disease model of addiction is almost universally accepted by the medical community although society at large (and even many of the families we treat), is only gradually accepting this conclusion. This is understandable because the disease model of addiction is the result of relatively new studies and research. If you would like to know more, we recommend starting with this National Institute of Drug Addiction (NIDA) article about the subject.
Common Sense In Treating any Disease
Like any other disease, it is common sense that for the best long term result, you would:
- Extend the initial treatment regimen and monitoring period
- Check the progress more often
- Adjust if necessary as a result of test feedback
When applied to addiction treatment, these principles are the equivalent of:
- Staying in treatment longer and continuing through lower levels of care
- Drug testing frequently
- Interpreting the feedback from a relapse and adjusting accordingly
A Relapse is Useful Medical Event
If someone who was being treated for diabetes experienced a low blood sugar episode that caused them to get dizzy and fall unconscious, you certainly wouldn’t halt the treatment for diabetes and deem it a failure. Instead, you would adjust the treatment regimen and step up the monitoring.
In the world of treatment this is the equivalent of moving the person to a higher level of care and processing the event with their clinical addiction support system. In a higher level of care, the individual will benefit from more supervision, more frequent drug testing and more frequent therapeutic activities.
The newly re-recovering individual should work with their counselor to process the relapse, particularly the events and circumstances preceding it. Specific plans for an alternative reaction to the relapse triggering situation will be specified and committed to. In process groups with peers there will be a support system for the individual to get even more motivation to succeed in recovery. If it would be helpful, an adjustment to the person’s psychiatric prescription can be made by a psychiatrist.
Relapse Does Not Have to be a Part of Recovery
If it sounds like we’re condoning relapse – we’re not. Many people begin uninterrupted lifelong recovery at our treatment center. However, we’ve also seen many recovered individuals who take ’10 year chips’ but had previously relapsed after a few months or even years of sobriety. Every client who comes to Simple will be familiar with one of our favorite sayings: “relapse does not have to be a part of your story.”
However, we have seen that the relapsed person is often hardest on themselves. Our aim is to reduce the stigma of a relapse so that the person will be more likely to seek help and correct the mistake as soon as possible.
The Entire Continuum of Treatment at Simple Recovery
If you or someone you care about has relapsed or is otherwise in need of treatment, we are here to help. We offer the entire continuum of care (from detox to outpatient treatment) with the top Masters and PhD level addiction clinicians. Call us today at (888)207-0965