There are steps that lead up to relapse; it rarely just occurs out of the blue. The beginning stages of relapse can transpire weeks or even months before the actual act occurs. Being informed of the stages of relapse along with its prevention methods are sure steps to reduce the risk of relapse.
Behaviors and emotions set an individual up for relapse in this first stage. Signs of emotional relapse include:
- Sudden irregular rehabilitation meeting visits
- Mood swings
- Poor sleeping and eating habits
Since emotional relapse is the first step in an actual physical relapse, it is important to be very conscious of any signs that point to its existence. Thankfully, it is also the easiest step to remedy. Being aware of the signs allows an individual to stop the process that often leads to more advanced stages, which may require more involved support. Self-care measures for this stage include taking better care of oneself such as incorporating better (as in regular) sleeping habits and eating better. It is also important to consider why drugs were used— if they were used as a reward, an escape or to relax. If an individual’s lifestyle is uncomfortable, they are more likely to seek drugs for these measures. Treatment programs often provide help to individuals in recovery; providing proper housing as well as job opportunities can lighten the load on everyday stressors that may prove to be too much for someone in recovery. Prolonging this stage without properly remedying it leads an individual to exhaustion, which leads to the second stage of relapse, the mental relapse.
After a prolonged period of overall discomfort, a familiar urge will begin to linger in a recovering addict’s mind. A conflict will grow— there is now a desire to use drugs again, and there will be another desire to not relapse.
Signs of mental relapse include:
- Fantasizing about using
- Associating with old friends who use
- Thinking about drugs
- Glamorizing drug past
The two stages of mental relapse are faint thoughts about using, and thinking about using without a doubt. There are a variety of ways to remedy mental relapse:
- Distract yourself when the urges occur; call a friend who identifies with your plight or interact with your support group. It is important to never sit with your urges and wait for it to pass.
- Imagine the entire scenario. Instead of merely dwelling on the act of doing the drug, take into consideration the following negative consequences that occur.
- Remember that recovery is one day at a time. Do not feel as if your recovery is ruined because you are having thoughts of using drugs again. Remind yourself that each day you are not using is a success, and all you have to do is continue to do so.
- Incorporate relaxation techniques. Tension makes any individual choose unhealthy and quick remedies in search of release. Make yoga, meditation, sports or art a regular part of your life to receive the benefits of a calmer mind.
Once a relapse occurs, an individual must take the proper steps to ensure physical health and to also make sure that he or she can once again regain sobriety. The first necessary step is to contact your rehabilitation sponsor to notify them of the relapse. Next, the individual needs to notify their loved ones. If the relapse is intense, it may be necessary to restart treatment and enlist new strategies to prevent another relapse. Many treatments include aftercare services such as additional counseling to deal with relapses.
The most important step after ensuring physical and mental health is to learn from the experience to avoid a recurrence. Complete recovery from relapse requires a throughout examination of what caused the relapse; many times a key incident in the prior stages was overlooked to cause the physical relapse. After a relapse, find ways to express yourself to keep track of your thought process, ignore advice that may have great intentions but cause more harm than help, check in with yourself regularly to track your mood, never be afraid to reach out for help and remind yourself that a relapse is not the end; the greatest comfort is knowing that there are many times to redeem yourself from one of the biggest disappointments of your life.