Category Archives: Relapse Prevention

New Study Documents the Importance of Continuing Care

At The River Source, we have always believed in the importance of continuing care following treatment. While time spent in rehab is vital, it’s not enough to continue lifelong sobriety. An effective treatment plan should always include aftercare and support services.

Addiction is Chronic. Continuing Care is Necessary

A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that nearly 2.15 million Americans have a diagnosable substance use disorder. Because addiction is a chronic disease, it’s crucial that we continue to seek effective methods of treatment that support long-term recovery.

The same report highlights that while residential care is highly effective, relapse rates are between 37-56 percent. This means multiple trips back to treatment as well as the continued risks of overdose, jail time and death.

Aftercare services can significantly improve a recovering addict’s chance of staying sober. Unfortunately, only half of addicts who have gone through treatment participate in the necessary continuing care programs. We must continue to work on these programs to make them accessible and practical for recovering addicts.

Reducing Barriers to Long Term Sobriety

At the 2016 Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State conference, NYU researchers presented the results of a study that analyzed the hurdles to a successful transition from inpatient rehab. Participants in the study reported that unmet personal needs, limited sober support networks and returning to stressful environments all negatively impacted their sobriety.

Knowing this, researchers are encouraging treatment centers to offer more services that reduce these barriers. Specifically, treatment centers must connect with patients as much as possible and make known the various resources available in the community.

The River Source Offers Continuing Care

The River Source has always seen the benefits of continuing care, and we continue to adjust our program so that it better meets the needs of our patients. Here are a few features included with our program.  

  • Use of our naturopathic clinic

  • Sobriety checks

  • Alumni accountability

  • Weekly groups and 12-step meetings

To learn more about our continuing care program, call The River Source today.

The Link Between Relapse and Overdose

Relapse can be an unfortunate part of the recovery process for some individuals. Those who struggle with sobriety can find it difficult to stay away from drugs and alcohol, especially when experiencing stressful situations. Relapse carries a lot of emotion for the addict and their support team. However, it also carries something else that many people fail to realize: the risk of overdose.

Tolerance and the Progression of Addiction

When a person uses drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, their tolerance for it increases. This means that they need more of the drug to feel the same effects. In the case of opiates, repeated use causes the opioid receptors in the brain to become desensitized. The brain is used to being high on heroin, so it adapts to it. Tolerance is the reason why people increase their dosage as they progress through addiction.

When an addict seeks treatment for a drug problem, they must first go through the withdrawal process. Withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, and sometimes fatal. This is why it’s recommended to seek detox in a medically supervised environment. Medications and therapies are available to manage some of the symptoms and prepare the addict for residential treatment.

Higher Risk of Overdose During Relapse

Whether a person has stopped using drugs or alcohol for one month or 12, their tolerance has gone down. Unfortunately, addicts don’t know how to “adjust” their drug of choice to meet their current tolerance level. If they relapse, they usually go right back to using the same amount as they were currently using, except for that they don’t have any tolerance to the drug.

Without tolerance, the body is at risk for dangerous side effects, including overdose. Harmful side effects can happen with any drug, but some are so strong (i.e., opiates), they carry an even greater risk of danger. Also, accidental overdose is more likely to occur when mixing drugs and alcohol. Heroin and alcohol are both depressants that slow down respiratory functions.

Relapse Warning Signs

No single person can stop a person from relapsing. However, being familiar with the signs of a potential relapse allows you to step in and get the recovering addict more support. Some of the most common warning signs of relapse are:

  • Strong emotions, such as anxiety, depression, fear, anger or loneliness that are uncontrolled

  • Engaging with people and places that are associated with drugs and alcohol

  • Dealing with a high level of stress and not having coping mechanisms to deal with it

  • Celebrations such as holidays or birthdays – relapse isn’t always tied to stressful events

Be vigilant in your loved one’s recovery. Their tolerance is much lower from the time they return home from treatment. Encourage your loved one to work closely with their sponsor, attend support groups and follow their continuing care plan. While not guaranteed, these steps can greatly reduce the risk of relapse and accidental overdose.

How to Spot an Addict in Relapse

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When your loved one returns home from treatment, the recovery process is not complete. Recovery is an ongoing process that has its fair share of good and bad days. In time, things get easier, but relapse is never out of the question. When recovering addicts face stressful situations, it’s possible for them to return to the practice they know best: using drugs or alcohol.

Relapse is not failure, and it’s certainly not giving up. In fact, some people relapse several times before they stay sober. It’s important to realize this, as a loved one who has relapsed needs immediate care and continued treatment. The best approach, however, is to spot an addict before they relapse. It’s a small window, but if you can act early, you may be able to prevent your loved one from actually using.

Warning Signs of Relapse 

Here are some ways to spot an addict who is heading for relapse.

They are getting too comfortable.

Some recovering addicts get a false sense of security when it comes to their recovery. If your loved one is overconfident in their progress, remind them that they are still recovering and need to take things slow. Otherwise, they may be willing to put themselves in difficult situations, such as going to nightclubs or hanging with old friends.

They stop following their treatment plan.

When your loved one returns from treatment, they will be given a continuing care plan to follow. If you find that your loved one is not doing what they’re supposed to – skipping meetings, shutting out family members, spending time at old hangouts – they are at risk for relapse.

They start reminiscing about their drug using days.

Drugs and alcohol have a way of changing the brain, so it takes time for addicts to heal and see their drug use for what it was. In the meantime, some addicts will associate drugs and alcohol with fun, relaxation and enjoyment. If your loved one starts reminiscing about the “good old days” and forgetting all the misery they had, relapse is a possibility.

They start acting selfish and moody.

Sometimes called a “dry drunk” this happens when a person is sober but they haven’t changed their attitude. The reason why it’s important to shake the negative attitude is because this way of thinking can lead right back to substance abuse. Your loved one needs to do more than simply stay off drugs and alcohol. They must learn coping skills, develop strong interpersonal skills and have outlets for stress and anxiety. Twelve step groups are helpful for developing these skills and keeping people away from drugs and alcohol.

Most importantly, listen to your gut. You know your family best, and you don’t need a clear warning sign or validation that your suspicions are correct. If you feel that your loved one is at risk for relapse, bolster the recovery regimen. Talk to the treatment center, their sponsor or a therapist for the best ways to do this.

Best Addiction Recovery Apps of 2017

If there’s one benefit to being in addiction recovery today, it’s technology. Thanks to a wide range of apps that can be downloaded in a few seconds, you never have to be alone in your recovery. Mobile apps provide ongoing support, resources and tools. Though they are not a replacement for attending your support groups and counseling sessions, these apps are effective at complementing your current recovery plan.

Below are a few of our favorite apps. Check them out and see which ones might offer the support you’re looking for as you transition into your sober, healthy life.


Cassava is an intuitive app that lets you track your progress in recovery such as nutrition, stress levels, sleep quality, moods and physical activity. It also has a recovery meeting directory that connects you with support groups anytime, anywhere. Use it daily for the best experience.

Available On: iTunes and Google Play, Cost: Free

Quit That!

Quit That! is a simple app that can be customized to just about any bad habit you want to stop, from smoking marijuana to watching too much TV. You can track your progress to the minute and track as many things as you’d like. The best part is, you can look back at the progress you’ve made and feel proud of your accomplishments.

Available On: iTunes, Cost: Free

AA Big Book Free

AA Big Book Free lets you take the Big Book with you wherever you go. With the free version, you get a vast amount of information, including the full text of the Big Book, prayers, personal stories, podcasts, meeting finders and more. It’s great reading material that you have on hand whenever you need it.

Available On: iTunes and Google Play, Cost: Free

The Mindfulness App: Meditation for Everyone

The Mindfulness App is used by millions of people worldwide. It’s designed for both beginners and experienced meditators, so everyone has something to gain. The focus is to help you become more present in your daily life, which is important in early recovery. The app features statistics, guided and silent meditations and health app integration.

Available On: iTunes, Cost: Free **For a similar app on Google Play, check out Headspace. Cost is free.**

Sober Tool

Sober Tool is an app that is geared toward relapse prevention. Its goal is to help you identify feelings and thoughts that can lead to relapse. By identifying these feelings, the app guides you toward healthier, “sober” thinking. Sober Tool also shows you how much time and money you’ve saved by being sober.

Available On: iTunes and Google Play, Cost: Free


These are just a few of the apps available to help complement your current recovery plan. Discover the ones that work for you and incorporate them into your daily life. By tracking your progress, managing stress levels and keeping connected to resources, you can significantly decrease your risk for relapse.

10 Quick Relapse Prevention Tips

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Recovery requires your full attention. If you get lazy or complacent, it puts you in a position where you could be more likely to relapse. Let’s take a look at 10 helpful tips for relapse prevention that have been suggested by recovering addicts.

1. Stay away from relationships that you found troubling in the past. These could be relationships with a boyfriend or girlfriend, friends who you used drugs or alcohol with or family members who enabled your addiction. You only want good influences in your life right now.

2. Keep away from the places where your drug or alcohol use took place. This could be bars, nightclubs or casinos. Or it could be friends’ houses and hangouts. Take different routes to work and invest in new activities to fill your time.

3. Start to learn about your body. When are you most likely to feel stressed or anxious? Are there times of the day when you feel lonely or afraid? The more you listen to your body, the better you can be proactive in decreasing the urge to use.

Women Enjoying FreedomPhoto Credit:

4. Find alternative ways of handling stress or anxiety. If you can pinpoint when you are most likely to feel the urge to use, you can use that time to do something relaxing such as meditating, listening to music, going for a run or doing some gardening. In other words, put your anxiety into something else.

5. Recognize the signs of a potential relapse. This way, if you feel that you are in danger of relapsing, you can get the help you need before anything happens. Examples include remembering the times that made you feel good or persuading yourself to do something “just once more.”

6. Don’t let yourself get bored. It’s okay to have some free time to yourself, but too much unaccounted time is dangerous. Find new activities to take part in, or pursue a new hobby. The park district or local library are great places to start.

7. Take care of your basic needs. If you continue to eat well-balanced meals and get adequate rest each night, you’ll find that your body will feel better and provide you with the energy and motivation to stay sober.

8. Get plenty of exercise. It doesn’t matter how you do it – just do it! Take a walk through the local forest preserve. Lift weights in your bedroom. Take a spinning class and bring your headphones. This fills up your time, helps you to release energy and encourages healthy habits.

9. Get a part-time job or volunteer your time. Working part-time can make a huge difference in your recovery. It gives you responsibility and teaches you how to follow a schedule. Working also helps build your confidence and self-esteem. If you’re not ready to work, consider volunteering your time for the same benefits.

10. Be active in your support groups. Give them a try, even if you’re hesitant at first. They are a good opportunity to connect with people and practice essential skills such as listening and empathy. Find a sponsor that you can count on as well.

Recovery has to start somewhere. If you are ready to start a treatment program for the first time or a subsequent time, The River Source is here for you. Give us a call today to learn more about our holistic programs.

How Outpatient Treatment Can Help Lower Relapse Risk

Change Life Yourself-Outpatient Treatment Help Lower Relapse RiskWhen you first start the journey to sobriety, the whole process can feel intimidating. One person tells you that the hardest part is admitting you have a problem, while another tells you it’s the detox process. Once you’re through this, you may have new people telling you about treatment and therapy and continuing care. No wonder why everything feels scary!

Here at The River Source, we tell our patients to adopt a “one day at a time” mentality. This means waking up and focusing on the day that you have been given rather than worrying about what tomorrow, next week or next year will look like. If you focus on staying sober and making yourself happy for the day, you’ll find yourself getting through more and more days.

Still, it’s helpful to be aware of what the recovery process entails. A little preparation goes a long way in helping you feel confident about what’s around the corner.

Detox Process

The first step in getting clean and sober is detox. The purpose of detox is to remove all traces of the drug from your body so that you are mentally and physically able to commit to recovery. At The RS, we believe in restoring the body, not just removing toxins. That’s why we offer vitamin therapy to restore vitamins and minerals.

Residential Treatment

The next step in the recovery process is residential treatment. Here, you will have a structured schedule that includes individual, group and family therapy, life skills workshops and access to various alternative therapies like biofeedback, acupuncture and dry sauna. Residential programs typically last for 30, 60 or 90 days. The purpose is to remove you from your current environment and help you focus on the underlying causes of your addiction.

Outpatient Treatment

While we wish that a treatment program was enough to stop an addiction, the truth is that recovery is a lifelong commitment. To help you fulfill this commitment, outpatient care is helpful. Unfortunately, it’s also largely underestimated. Before leaving treatment, we recommend having a continuing care plan in place, which may include outpatient services.

Outpatient programs are an extension of a residential treatment program. Each week, you’ll meet for individualized counseling and life skills workshops. There are also opportunities for family enrichment, 12-step education and relapse prevention. Being part of a sober community can reduce your relapse risk and help you stay on track with your goals.

The River Source is a holistic treatment center that treats the mind, body and spirit. We help our patients through each stage of the recovery process, including naturopathic detox, residential treatment and outpatient care. Each patient is unique, and so should be their level of care.

Call The River Source to learn more!