Just like with many diseases, the road to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is long and often fraught with potential for relapse. One’s commitment to getting and staying sober goes far beyond the foundation of any treatment, 12-step program, or rehab. It is a daily promise to focus on staying healthy and avoiding those triggers that can cause an addict to revert to old behaviors and habits.
When it comes to maintaining abstinence, one must be realistic when re-entering the real world and understand that there are no guarantees to staying sober. Recognizing the need for dedication along the journey is the first step in relapse prevention. Here we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about drug and alcohol relapse and how to avoid it.
What is a Relapse?
The term relapse relates to many types of diseases, including cancer and addiction. The definition of relapse states it is as being “a return of disease after partially recovering from it.” Many studies and reports have revealed that multifaceted behavior patterns rooted in one’s brain can result in impulse control issues indicative of drug dependence. To avoid this, it is crucial to learn about the tools necessary to reduce any compulsive behaviors.
What Causes One to Relapse?
Even after committing to sobriety through treatment, once an addict reenters the everyday life, he or she may find many triggers that bring up one’s addictive tendencies. Although specific people, places, and things are not necessarily regarded as troublesome by non-addicts, they can be devastating to those suffering from a drug or alcohol dependency. Relapse prevention requires one to avoid or minimize these particular triggers to help safeguard against a setback.
What are the Types of Relapse?
There are three types of relapse: Emotional, mental and physical. Emotional relapse is often difficult to recognize, as the addict may not openly discuss his/her feelings with those involved in his/her relapse prevention. Indicators of emotional relapse include irritability, anxiety, sadness, depression, anger or frustration. Self-isolation and lack of motivation may also be present.
Mental relapse involves the addict wanting to do something about emotional distress. One may become preoccupied with alcohol or drugs and how to obtain them. This careful attention to substances may lead an addict to mingling with friends who use.
The third type of relapse is physical. Reverting to alcohol and drugs may mean life or death for someone who is relapsing. It could result in a drug overdose or overdrinking. Notice of a physical relapse may warrant a real concern from loved ones and justify staging an intervention.
Ways to Prevent Relapse
When trying to prevent an addiction relapse, there are several techniques to helping one stay sober. First and foremost, an addict needs to focus on his/her health and well-being. Exercising regularly and eating healthy foods will increase energy and mood, lessening the chance for developing depression or anxiety.
Another way to prevent someone from going back to using drugs and alcohol is utilizing a support network. Surrounding an addict with trustworthy and reliable people, including recovery support groups, will help reduce any isolation and help hold the addict accountable.
Engaging in meaningful activities, such as volunteering, could lend a feeling of integrity and purpose for an addict. Participation in worthy causes may foster self-worth that an addict often lacks. Incorporating these techniques will help ensure his/her relapse prevention commitment is successful.
The road to recovery begins with seeking appropriate treatment. Harmony Grove offers inpatient and outpatient programs designed with your well-being and health in mind. Our experienced staff is dedicated to working diligently with you and your loved ones throughout the process of sobriety. Through our programs, patients will learn the skills and tools that are essential for healing oneself inside and out.