Patients who seek treatment through outpatient services are exposed to numerous triggers in their everyday lives; without proper support, addiction relapse is possible. We strive to provide the best treatment and recovery services available, and in doing so, we make random drug testing a mandatory part of our outpatient treatment. Random drug testing not only serves to provide an atmosphere of greater trust between the clinician and patient; it helps the patient stay in control of addictive behaviors and be mindful of the consequences of their actions.
Addiction is a complex issue and it’s widely accepted that it’s a chronic disease. Not only does it alter behavior patterns, but it also has a profoundly negative effect on the body and the brain structure. Even after individuals stop using, it takes time for the brain to rebound and that’s one of the reasons why it’s very common for addicts to go through several rehabs or to experience a relapse after rehab. In 2001, a scientific journal published images showing the recovery of the brain’s chemistry. These images compare the transporters of dopamine (neurotransmitter connected to the feeling of pleasure) in a non-user, a recovering meth addict after one month of rehab and an individual after 14 months of sobriety from meth. Only after more than a year in this case did the dopamine transporters start to resemble those in a non-user’s brain.
Random drug testing during our alcohol and drug rehab in San Diego is enough for some individuals to stick to their recovery goals. It can be a powerful incentive, but that doesn’t go for all.
Both the early rehab and aftercare focus heavily on preventing relapse. The whole therapy is based on exploring the roots of the addiction, replacing negative thoughts and behavior patterns and working on preventing relapse and dealing with triggers. If and when a recovering addict relapses after all this therapeutic work, they often feel they are too weak to resist their urges. On top of that, they might feel guilty and ashamed to seek help. Relapse can feel like a betrayal and they could either choose to keep silent or drop out. Having the patients in outpatient rehab tested regularly for drugs allows early detection of renewed substance abuse, should it happen.
The point of discovering relapse early on isn’t to punish the individual. Rather, it allows for reexamining the recovery plan and adjusting it to suit the individual better. Relapse is also understood as a learning opportunity – when it’s used to the maximum, it decreases the chances of another relapse.
Some patients are very comfortable with random drug tests because they see it as a safety net. Knowing they will “get caught” if they start using again reassures them that they will have to discuss it with their physician and therapists no matter how embarrassing or anxiety-provoking they find it.
Random drug testing is nothing more than a support for the recovery treatment and its’ sole purpose is to make sure the individual is on the right road to recovery.
Random Drug Testing