One of the biggest fears for those in recovery from any type of addiction is an addiction relapse. Relapse prevention forms a large part of the recovery process, but those who become complacent during their recovery may start to think that they could return to drugs or alcohol without any problems.
They often get lulled into a false sense of security or believe that they are cured because they haven’t wanted drugs or alcohol for so long. These individuals can start to think that maybe they never really were addicted in the first place and that their problems were caused by something else. When this happens, the likelihood of addiction relapse becomes highly likely.
Dangers of Addiction Relapse
Many people who are in recovery from addiction could be putting their lives at risk if they were to return to drugs or alcohol. In a significant number of cases, one more alcoholic drink could result in a life or death situation.
It is hard to believe, but some individuals drink to the point where their livers are so damaged that doctors will warn them that one more drink could kill them. These people may decide there and then to quit drinking and will access treatment programmes where they can get the help they need to overcome their illness. By abstaining from alcohol, they are giving themselves a chance at life. But they need to remember that returning to alcohol could reverse everything they have worked so hard to achieve, in an instant.
In terms of certain drugs, a relapse could mean death. Those who abused cocaine or heroin for many years would have built up a tolerance to the drug over time. This means that as they continued to abuse the drug, they would have had to take more and more of it to achieve the high they desired. The reason for this is that their body became used to the presence of the drug and adapted to it.
However, even a few days of abstinence can dramatically reduce an individual’s tolerance to drugs. This can mean that if the affected person were to suffer an addiction relapse and take the same amount of drugs they were taking before, they would almost certainly suffer an overdose.
Overdose does not just occur among those who have succumbed to an addiction relapse, however. Drug purity also plays a major role in how a drug affects the individual. For example, it is impossible to tell from looking at heroin how pure it is.
Many dealers will mix heroin with other ingredients so that they will have more to sell. So each batch of heroin will have a different purity to the next. A user who has been taking ten per cent pure heroin, for example, could easily overdose if he or she took fifty per cent pure heroin.
Record Drug Death Levels
It has been reported that drug death levels have reached record highs because drugs such as heroin and cocaine are becoming purer. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that, in 2015, the number of individuals who died from drugs poisoning was 3,674, which is the highest ever recorded.
Since 2012, the number of people who have died as a result of taking heroin and morphine has doubled to 1,200, and there has been an 185 per cent jump in the number of those dying as a result of taking cocaine.
Researcher Vanessa Fearn, from the ONS, said, “Deaths involving heroin and morphine have more than doubled since 2012, partly driven by a rise in heroin purity and availability over the last three years. Age is also a factor in the record levels of drug deaths, as heroin users are getting older and they often have other conditions, such as lung disease and hepatitis, that make them particularly vulnerable.”
Increases in purity of both drugs are causing further problems, particularly when the drugs are taken together, as they so often are. According to the analysis from the ONS, “It is likely that changes in the purity and availability of heroin, as well as increases in the purity of cocaine, are contributing to the rise in deaths involving cocaine in recent years.”
Avoiding Addiction Relapse
While purity of drugs is a contributing factor for many overdose deaths, addiction relapse remains a major concern, especially when recovering addicts try to take the same amount of the drug as before. Even those that are aware of the fact that they have a decreased tolerance could still be at risk because drugs these days have a higher purity. This could mean that even a small amount of heroin or cocaine can result in overdose and death.
It is important for those in recovery to be alert to the dangers of addiction relapse and do everything they can to avoid it. If you are worried about yourself or someone you love, contact us here at Addiction Helper today.
Source: Drug deaths reach record levels as purity of heroin and cocaine rises (The Telegraph)