Are You In Relapse Mode?
Complacency is a danger for people who have managed to escape substance abuse. It is a human tendency to take things for granted once they become routine, but you need to remain vigilant in order to protect your recovery. Here are 5 signs you need to look out for because they could mean you are heading for a relapse:
Cynicism about Recovery
Cynicism is a type of ‘stinking thinking’, and it means that you don’t trust what other people have to say. If are suspicious of those who claim to be doing well in recovery, or you are overly skeptical about recovery methods, it could indicate that you have become cynical. This negative way of thinking often occurs when people are looking for a justification to relapse.
Romancing the Chemical
If you spend time remembering ‘happy’ days drinking in bars, or getting high with friends, it means you are romancing the chemical. These memories glamuorise the past, and you may wonder if things were really so bad back then. This way of thinking weakens your resolve, and it could be a sign that you are heading for a relapse.
Looking for Evidence to Justify Relapse
This sign of an impending relapse can be easy to miss because it can seem as if what you are doing is reasonable at the time. An example of this would be searching for stories on the internet about alcoholics who managed to moderate their drinking. You can tell yourself that you are just being curious, or you are trying to become more knowledgeable, but searching for this type of story may mean your recovery is in danger.
Being Stuck in Recovery
Recovery is a process that continues for the rest of your life. If you become stuck at any point, it can mean your life starts to feel uncomfortable. The most common reason for why this happens is you are faced with something you don’t want to deal with – so long as you hide from the problem, you stop making any more progress in recovery. This feeling of being stuck is unpleasant, and it can be tempting to turn to alcohol or drugs for solace.
Spending More Time in Dangerous Environments
If you have started to visit pubs more often, or you are spending more time with drug using friends, it may mean you are on the verge of relapse. In Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous they say – if you spend enough time in a barber shop, you will eventually get your hair cut.
Addressing mental urges can be an effective tool for preventing relapse, at least on a short-term basis. Speaking to someone about the urge to use can often help to reduce that urge and bring rational thinking to the forefront of the equation. This is a reason that a lot of support programs employ the use of a sponsor; it can be critical to have someone to talk to when the urge to use arises.
Thinking about the full scenario after romanticizing substance abuse can also help. When a person in recovery is romanticizing their past use of a drug, they are often simply thinking of the early stages – the consumption of the drug. It can be helpful for an individual to continue to “play the tape through” and think about everything else that accompanies using, specifically all the consequences that come along with it. This can help an individual remember why they sought recovery in the first place.
Reentering a residential treatment facility is sometimes a necessary step to preventing relapse. If the urge to use has become strong enough, reinserting someone into the very environment in which their recovery began could be what is needed to keep them on the path to recovery. Therapy in an outpatient setting could be sufficient as well.
Again, the support of friends and family can be paramount in preventing relapse. It’s important for such people to be educated on the process of recovery, as well as the risks and warning signs of relapse. Their ability to monitor their loved one in recovery can be crucial in preventing a relapse.
Recovery from Relapse
Mirror those for other chronic conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, meaning that relapse is a common occurrence. However, a relapse does not mean that someone has failed at recovery. It’s simply part of their process – an obstacle that must be overcome.
Prompt action is the best way to address a relapse. The individual must recognize that a relapse, while not a failure, is a serious thing. Each relapse presents the potential to fall back into continuous abuse, which can lead to serious health problems and even death.
Pinpointing the reasons for a relapse is key. By identifying why a person used, proper safeguards can be put in place to prevent those same triggers from resulting in another relapse. The more an individual knows about their personal triggers and warning signs, the easier it will be for them and their loved ones to recognize any signs of a relapse. A relapse prevention plan, often devised with the help of a therapist, can be an effective tool in ensuring another relapse does not occur. While there is no way to guarantee that a relapse will not occur, there are certainly steps for prevention and recovery that can increase the likelihood of a long and successful recovery.
Resources: American Addiction Centers