It’s no secret that a substance abuse problem can be insidious and unfathomably difficult to kick. Treatment can be a long, difficult and sometimes slow process. Months can be spent in therapeutic facilities and support groups, sometimes with seemingly little improvement. For some patients, the temptation to relapse – to just take one more hit to make the whole thing much easier – is unbearable. When the temptation to use again is strong, someone in recovery may wonder just how much damage one little hit do.
What the person may not realize is that it only takes one small hit to open a door that had been painstakingly dragged shut. This is why drug testing in treatment serves a vital purpose.
Why Is Testing During Treatment Necessary?
The temptation and craving to abuse drugs or alcohol, even while on treatment, is so strong that up to half the teens who are enrolled in a rehabilitation program will relapse.
Time Is Of The Essence
Testing urine is the quickest and most accurate way to determine whether someone has fallen off the wagon. Time is of the essence, because if a relapse goes unchecked, the likelihood that the patient will start using again increases significantly. There is also the concern that the patient’s body will eventually filter out all evidence of substance abuse before a relapse can be detected
Accountability is a vital element in treatment for a substance abuse problem. While support groups offer a good network, many treatment programs are upfront about having regular, and surprise, urine tests. Of course, it is important to be supportive of all efforts to stay clean, but it is equally important to be realistic. Given how strongly illicit substances can affect the mind, and how damaging one single relapse can be, testing urine for samples of drugs, nicotine or alcohol could be the difference between recovery and another spiral of addiction.
It is possible to cheat the urinalysis, by preserving samples of clean urine or by employing various other methods found on the Internet and even in support groups. For example, the patient might urinate while they are sober and preserve that urine for presentation, dodging the bullet of producing the urine sample while they still have a substance in their body. People attempting to cheat a test in this way are often found out, as preserved urine is cold while a legitimate urine sample will be fresh and close to body temperature.
Other testing materials used for drug tests could be blood, hair, sweat and saliva.
There are other reasons why drug testing during treatment is important:
- The presence of drugs in a patient’s system can affect clinical treatment decisions.
- A relapse suggests that a different treatment program is required.
- It prevents the patient from being given a medication that might cause a dangerous interaction with the substance they are taking.
- Testing during treatment is exceptionally important for women who are pregnant.
What Substances Can Drug Testing Detect?
Frequent, timely and surprise urinalysis can detect the following substances in a patient’s body:
What Should I Do When Relapse Occurs?
Even before treatment begins, patients should be aware that relapse is a possibility. During care, it will be important to verify that the patient is abstinent, and this is done via drug testing. This verification is always done in the best interest of the patient.
Relapse’s Do Occur
It’s important to note that as undesirable as a relapse is, it can occur, and it isn’t uncommon. Patients should understand that even if relapse occurs, it does not mean that treatment has failed; it merely means that a new, different treatment plan is required.
Relapse statistics for substance abuse problems are similar to those of chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, type I diabetes and hypertension, suggesting that treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is not dissimilar to how treatment for those chronic illnesses is approached: if one course of therapy does not work, another approach should be employed. Eventually, sustained recovery can be achieved.
If there is clear and incontrovertible evidence of relapse, or if the patient confesses, approach the situation with communication and understanding. Make it very clear that using or drinking again is getting in the way of their recovery, and that it sabotages the treatment program, but do so without using guilt, shame or condemnation. Let them know you have some idea of how difficult it is to resist the temptation, but open the floor to them to suggest how they can better avoid making that mistake again.
Get Real Help Today
At Black Bear Lodge, we understand that the process of treatment and recovery can be exhausting for everyone involved – for those who are receiving therapy and for those who are on the outside looking in. Family members bear an enormous burden as they shepherd someone close to them back into a healthy lifestyle. Mistakes can be made, but those mistakes do not need to be the end of the story.
Drug testing in treatment is an important part of ensuring that one relapse does not derail one’s journey toward sobriety. Call us now to find out how we can help you or your loved one to achieve a sustained recovery.