Addiction recovery means at least one relapse (sometimes more than one) but this should not bother you, if you are willing to get up again, brush the dirt of your knees and keep going. It is hard and shameful – to fall into the trap of taking drugs or drinking again, after the painful detoxification process and the weeks, month or years of sobriety. Many of those who make it into recovery will relapse and this is most likely to happen in the first few months. In recovery, a huge emphasis is placed onto relapse prevention techniques, because a return to the previous life of doing drugs can mean years of endless suffering and many of those who have relapsed cannot have more chances to quit.
As I stated in a previous article about addiction symptoms and treatment, it is a brain disorder. So, the problem with the relapses does not come from lack of willingness, from lack of strength, etc. It DOES come because the addict is a sick person and as most of the chronic diseases have stages of remission and stages of relapses, so does the addiction.
It is very important for one to adjust to the life in sobriety. The recovery doesn’t happen at once, it is a life-time process. There are some very helpful relapse prevention techniques, that can help those who are struggling on the path of recovery. But first, let’s see what causes relapse and what are the early symptoms that someone is likely to start using drugs or drinking again.
The categories of relapse causes are three. The first is emotional – it is when one turns back to addiction in order to cope with difficult to handle emotions or thoughts. The second one is external situations – if, for example, the addict spends a lot of time being around other addicted people. Another cause of relapse are the unhealthy patterns of behavior – if the person develops these, the chances of relapse are very high.
The relapse triggers are various. For example, overconfidence, unrealistic expectations, depression (which is a side effect of the detoxification process, because of the changed brain structure), self-pity, using other addictive substances.
The process of relapse has three different stages.
· Emotional – when one will struggle with recovery. During this stage one might not think about using drugs again. Signs of this stage are: anxiety, anger, mood swings, poor eating and/or sleep habits; isolation; intolerance; not going to meetings; not asking for help.
· Mental – the person starts thinking about using drugs or about drinking. During this stage, the cravings can be very strong.
· Relapse stage – when the person does drugs or drinks again. But this does not mean than one cannot recover. With proper help and resources, the addict can lead a life in sobriety again.
Often, the mentioned bellow ore very helpful in helping someone who is on the verge of relapse to get into the right track again.
You can use meditation techniques, when you start feeling very emotional, to control your thoughts or emotions. Or, one can use counseling sessions, group therapy sessions or 12-Step meetings. Each one of these is very helpful in providing support, understanding and problem solving. For burning excess energy, try practicing a sport or simply exercising. This way you will improve not only your physical health, but also your mental health. Find a hobby that keeps you satisfied and relieves the stress. Since before all you have done with your free time was drinking or doing drugs, now is important to find something to fill up the time. Do not forget to get enough food and sleep, attend all your group sessions, avoid people and places that can be triggers for relapse. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Take care for your hygiene and health. Remember, everyone can relapse, but not everyone gets the chance to recover again. Do not be part of the sad statistics, create yourself a brand new clean and sober life.
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