Relapse Management: Summary & Key Issues to Remember
Successful management of substance abuse, like all chronic diseases, is best handled by an interdisciplinary and individualized approach.
Some patients need detox; others can cut down on their own. Some patients need pharmacotherapy to increase their chances of long-term sobriety and others do not. Everyone needs education, counseling, and social support even if the venues and programs differ.
- And every patient needs their entire medical team to understand the chronic nature of their disease, the high rate of relapse, factors that can lead to relapse and who the patient can call on when they do need help
- Ask the patient about their substance use and ask every time, no matter what your specialty
- Keep the door open to these conversations
- Use your Motivational Interviewing skills so that patients feel more comfortable admitting their setbacks with substance use
You may or may not be the one to “manage” their treatment, but you have an important role to play in monitoring this chronic disease, even if it is no more involved than calling a counselor or social worker for a struggling patient to speak with. Screening tools may help to uncover substance abuse or dependence but the conversation shouldn’t end there.