St. Louis, MO – August 31, 2022
In understanding the role of relapse in recovery we learn that what many might characterize as a “relapse” is actually a natural part of the recovery process for patients battling a dependence issue. For patient’s committed to recovery, it isn’t failure, but a step in the process. They have nothing to be ashamed of.
“If you have had a relapse understand that this isn’t the end,” said Ashley Halker, MHA, Director of Operations of INSynergy. “There is still every amount of intervention available to you. You are not a failure.”
One of the most frustrating parts of starting to break free from alcohol or drug dependence is having to start over because of a relapse. But at INSynergy, the St. Louis-based alcohol and drug treatment program, relapses are not seen as failures, but as opportunities.
“The goal is that you are able to pick yourself up, identify and learn from what that relapse has cost,” Halker said. “Where did it come from, what were the triggering factors, was it environmental, was it medication, was it mood? Learn from it and move forward.”
Research shows that those who have been diagnosed with alcohol or opioid dependence have the highest rates of relapse during the first year after beginning treatment. Some studies show a relapse rate for alcohol as high as 80% during the first year of treatment, while the relapse rate for opioids as high as 95 percent during the first year after beginning treatment.
Those studies reflect national averages. At INSynergy patients beat the averages because the approach is a highly personalized, medically based treatment approach that often includes medical assisted therapies that help patients with cravings.
“We treat addiction like any other chronic medical illness,” Doctor Arturo Taca Jr., Medical Director of INSynergy said. “We do genetic testing, that can give us some insight to which medicines may be helpful and may not be helpful, we screen for other medical conditions, like anemia or hypothyroid or vitamin deficiencies or hormone deficiencies like testosterone or things like that.”
“These are easy things that we can identify,” Dr. Taca said. “Our interventions are designed to prevent an early death.”
INSynergy’s success at limiting the frequency of relapses also comes from offering patients effective anti-craving medications like Vivitrol.
INSynergy also utilizes FDA cleared neuromodulation devices like the Bridge, which send faint electrical pulses to nerves related to the unpleasant side effects of opioid withdrawal.
“The benefit of a comprehensive treatment program is that we can really give control back to the patient instead of the addiction and really challenge your thought process to allow that to occur,” Halker said.
Whether it is a medical condition, genetics, social pressure or just boredom that leads a patient to fall back on old habits, the important thing to remember is that relapses are not a break from the process. They are part of the process.
“Life is trying to teach you lots of things, and it is important to listen,” Halker said. “And relapses are certainly one of those. It doesn’t have to be this failure, this shameful event.”
There are many elements that must come together for a patient to remain sober. No matter how committed to sobriety they are, there is a chance they will relapse at some point. When it happens, it provides the opportunity to learn and fine tune their approach to recovery.
“Just like a symphony, the brain has different sections and we are dependent on these sections to be perfectly in tune,” Doctor Taca said. “With relapse, a lot of things are out of tune.
“We can fix it,” Dr. Taca said. “With time, with the proper understanding of the brain, and the rhythms of the brain all the sections of the brain can eventually make beautiful music together.”