Treatment Relapse prevention Relapse Prevention A Treatment Method Comes of by tracy12


									                     Treatment | Relapse prevention

                     Relapse Prevention:                                  People with substance use
                                                                          disorders are at high risk of
                                                                  relapse once they have stopped using
                                                                  alcohol and other drugs and started to
                                                                                                             two important studies. The first was a
                                                                                                             snapshot of all patients in treatment
                                                                                                             on a typical treatment day. The second
                                                                                                             study compared patients in treatment

                     A Treatment Method                           recover. Many studies over the last 35
                                                                  years have documented high rates of
                                                                  relapse among patients completing
                                                                                                             for the first time with relapse-prone
                                                                                                             patients who had multiple admissions.
                                                                                                             These studies clearly demonstrate

                     Comes of Age                                 treatment for substance use disorders.
                                                                       Studies of lifelong patterns of
                                                                  recovery and relapse indicate that
                                                                  patients who relapse are not hope-
                                                                                                             both the high cost of relapse and the
                                                                                                             need for the systematic application of
                                                                                                             effective relapse prevention methods
                                                                                                             within existing treatment programs.
                     Terence T. Gorski explains how               less. About a third achieve permanent
                                                                  abstinence from their first serious
                                                                                                                 To contain the costs of treatment,
                                                                                                             a new emphasis on implementing

                     understanding and responding                 attempt at recovery; another third have
                                                                  a series of brief relapse episodes that
                                                                                                             specialty relapse prevention (RP)
                                                                                                             approaches is needed that will lower
                                                                  eventually result in long-term             relapse rates and rapidly intervene
                     to relapse-prone patients can                abstinence. The remaining third have
                                                                  chronic relapses that result in
                                                                                                             with patients who relapse. Such RP
                                                                                                             approaches exist, and there is a

                     dramatically improve their                   eventual disability and death from
                                                                  chemical dependency. Around half of
                                                                                                             growing body of evidence of their
                                                                                                             effectiveness. When appropriately
                                                                  all people who are prone to relapse        matched to individual patient needs,
                     chances of recovery.                         eventually find permanent abstinence;      RP methods tend to reduce the
                                                                  many others improve in spite of their      duration, severity, and consequences
                                                                  periodic relapse episodes.                 of relapse episodes. As a result, the
                                                                       Of the patients entering treatment    cost of treatment can be significantly
                                                                  for the first time, at least 60 per cent   reduced by effectively integrating
                                                                  are at high risk of becoming relapse       relapse prevention methods into the
                                                                  prone. Relapse is a serious problem        treatment process. Let’s briefly explore
                                                                  that increases the overall cost of         the developmental history of these RP
                                                                  treatment. Many alcohol and drug           methods.
                                                                  abusers are admitted to treatment a            Since the mid-1970s an increasing
                                                                  number of times before they are able       emphasis has been placed upon
                                                                  to achieve long-term abstinence, and       developing and using RP methods. The
                                                                  those admitted to substance abuse          work of Marlatt, Gorski, and Daley was
                                                                  treatment more than once tend to           influential in motivating clinicians to
                                                                  generate significantly higher expenses.    use, research, and continue to develop
                                                                       As the number of repeat admiss-       and apply relapse prevention methods
                                                                  ions increase, three things tend to        in a wide variety of settings with many
                                                                  happen: the severity of addiction and      different specialty populations. After
                                                                  the number and severity of coexisting      nearly 30 years of progressive
                                                                  psychiatric and medical disorders tend     development, RP has become a
                                                                  to increase, driving up the cost of        recognised and effective treatment
                                                                  each subsequent treatment episode;         method, with a wide array of proven
                                                                  the patient’s social and economic          programme models.
                                                                  stability tends to decrease; and the           The evolution of RP methods has
                                                                  use of public funding for treatment        set the stage for the development and
                                                                  and to meet basic survival needs           use of manualised treatment methods
                                                                  tends to increase.                         that can be quickly, inexpensively, and
                                                                       The 1990 National Drug and Alcohol    effectively deployed to clinicians.
                                                                  Treatment Utilization Study (NDATUS)           RP is a systematic method for
                                                                  estimated that the United States spent     teaching recovering addicts to prevent
                                                                  a total of $4.08 billion on treating       relapse by recognising and managing
                                                                  people with substance use disorders.       early relapse warning signs. It also
                                                                  Since 40 per cent of these patients        teaches patients to stop relapse
                                                                  were relapsers, the nation spent $1.63     quickly by using early intervention
                                                                  billion treating relapsers in 1990.        methods, and becomes the primary
                                                                  Unfortunately, most of this money was      focus for patients who are unable to
ImageState / Alamy

                                                                  spent on recycling patients through        maintain abstinence from alcohol or
                                                                  treatment that had already failed.         drugs after receiving primary treatment.
                                                                       In 2002 and 2003, the Substance           Twelve key themes distinguish RP
                                                                  Abuse and Mental Health Services           from other treatment methods:
                                                                  Administration (SAMHSA) completed          ● Clients learn to identify high-risk

                     12 | drinkanddrugsnews | 11 September 2006                                                        
Treatment | Post-its from Practice

                                                                                        Post-its from Practice
    situations that can cause relapse      effectiveness of RP with smokers,
    and develop strategies for dealing
    with them.
                                           alcohol abusers, marijuana abusers,
                                           cocaine abusers, opiate addicts, and         Sun, Surf and Schengen
●   They are educated to understand        other substance abusers showed that
                                                                                        Experiencing the hassles of checking in for her flight amid
    relapse as both a process and an       there is good evidence for the
    event.                                 effectiveness of RP approaches,
                                                                                        heightened scrutiny and security, Dr Janet Gillespie considered
●   They begin to deal with alcohol and    compared with ‘no treatment’ controls.       how much more stressful if must be to travel with the fear of
    drug cues and cravings.                RP was also shown as most likely to          your methadone being seized.
●   They understand and deal with          be effective when used with patient
    social pressure to use substances.     treatment matching procedures. The           In the middle of August I travelled through Stansted, passport and purse to hand
●   They build a social support            most notable positive outcomes across        in their regulation clear plastic bag. Surrounded by tired infants, brittle nerves and
    network.                               studies of RP included maintaining           raised voices, I pondered how much more anxious I might be if I had prescribed
●   They develop methods for coping        abstinence and positive changes from         methadone in my hold baggage and a UK export licence in my clear plastic bag.
    with negative emotional states.        treatment, and reducing the severity of           The current UK export licence scheme is long established: we apply to the
●   They identify and receive treatment    relapse when they occur.                     Home Office on behalf of the patient, giving information about their prescription,
    for coexisting psychiatric disorders       All addiction treatment facilities are   and the Home Office sends a personal export licence direct to the patient. (The
    related to past relapse.               providing treatment to patients who          Home Office contact details have changed recently – see [1] below.) The export
●   They make the transition from          are either relapse prone or in               licence only applies to leaving the UK but, it is argued, its existence supports the
    residential and inpatient treatment    treatment for the first time with a high     arriving traveller’s claim of legitimate possession. Unfortunately, we have found
    to normal living, with follow-up       risk of becoming relapse prone. The          that some countries (in particular, Italy) do not subscribe to this opinion and
    outpatient treatment and aftercare.    problem is that many treatment               several of our patients have had their medication seized by immigration. This is a
●   They cope with cognitive distortions   programs lack specialised science-           pity – because it doesn’t need to happen…
                                                                                             Surfing the net is so often a process led by intention but guided by chance. So
                                                                                        it was that I discovered a German website for substance misusers that reminded
                                                                                        its readers to obtain their Schengen certificate in good time for their forthcoming
Studies of lifelong patterns of recovery                                                summer holidays. In Norway, the certificate is available through the dispensing
                                                                                        pharmacist, although the Netherlands have decided that the matter should be
and relapse indicate that patients who                                                  controlled from a central government office. Here in the UK, the House of Lords
relapse are not hopeless. About a third                                                 Select Committee on the European Union, nominated the Home Office as ‘the
                                                                                        competent authority to issue Schengen Certificates’. (15 February 2000)
achieve permanent abstinence from                                                            A Schengen Certificate authorises the holder to carry up to 30 days supply of
                                                                                        prescribed controlled medication for personal use AND to travel freely across
their first serious attempt at recovery;                                                national borders within the ‘Schengen states’ [2]. In 1999, the UK chose to
                                                                                        implement ‘those measures of the Schengen acquis, now integrated into the EU
another third have a series of brief                                                    Treaties, that relate to law-enforcement and criminal judicial co-operation,
relapse episodes that eventually result                                                 including the SIS.’ This includes Article 75: Schengen Certificates, whose primary
                                                                                        aim is to keep those carrying prescribed medication out of the criminal justice
in long-term abstinence.                                                                system. However, the certificates inadvertently also help us in our strategy of
                                                                                        harm reduction.
                                                                                             When emailed recently about Schengen certificates, the Home Office stated
  that can increase the risk of            based treatment for relapse-prone            that, as the present system works, there was no immediate intention of changing
  relapse.                                 patients, leaving them less likely to        their current practice. In a further reply to our experience with the Italian
● They work towards achieving a            recover. This is unfortunate because it      authorities, the Home Office pleaded ignorance but are happy to receive
  balanced lifestyle that promotes         is no more expensive to treat patients       information on any future incidents.
  effective stress management,             using relapse prevention therapy than             As I took off my shoes before being frisked by airport security, I decided that, on
  sober and responsible living, and        it is to use traditional recovery            balance, I would prefer to have a Schengen certificate, rather than an export
  physical and mental wellbeing.           methods – and the difference in              licence, in my plastic bag. If providing evidence to the Home Office is ‘what it
● They evaluate their need for and         improved outcomes with relapse-prone         takes’ to get them for our patients, then please email the helpful Mr Evans on
  appropriate use of medication.           patients can radically increase     with any travel problems that have
● They develop effective plans for         recovery rates, while lowering the long-     come to your notice and enclose my best wishes.
  stopping a lapse or relapse should       term costs of treatment.
  it occur.                                                                             Dr Janet Gillespie is a GP at Lonsdale Medical Centre
                                           Relapse Prevention Counselling (RPC) is
There is evidence that RP does help        available as a two-day workshop and is       References:
improve recovery and reduce relapse        being offered by Lifeworks Community         [1] Home Office, Drugs Branch 6th Floor Peel Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
rates. A review of 26 published and        on 2-3 October 2006 at Regents               Telephone 020 7035 0484 Fax 020 7035 6161
unpublished studies of RP programs,        College, London. For more information        [2] The following countries fully implement the provisions of the Schengen acquis: Austria,
representing a sample of 9,504             on this workshop please contact              Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the
participants, found that RP was            Lifeworks Community Ltd. Tel: +44 (0)        Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The newly acceded EU countries (Cyprus,
generally effective, particularly for      1483 757 572, email:                         Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia) are not
alcohol problems.                 or log       expected to fully implement the Schengen acquis until the end of 2007.
   Randomised controlled trials on the     onto                                                                                                                         11 September 2006 | drinkanddrugsnews | 13

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