What is Relapse?
When someone who has struggled with substance abuse has achieved some period of sobriety and then returned to active use, that is relapse. While going back out does happen, it doesn’t happen to everyone, and people who stay sober tend to do the same things. We have some tips for avoiding relapse.
It’s extremely common for people who struggle with addiction to relapse at least once during recovery. We can help you!
Build a Solid Network of Sober Friends
Remember, the friends you meet in sobriety understand what you’ve been through. They know what it is to experience cravings that can feel impossible to get through. So after you’ve made some contacts, use those phone numbers! It can help to remember that by reaching out to a sober friend when you are struggling, you are actively helping *them* to stay sober by reminding them of how powerful the disease can be. Your reaching out helps them “keep it green”, to remember just how bad it can get.
Having sober friends also means not having to worry about avoiding or dealing with alcohol every time you make social plans.
H.A.L.T. Your Relapse Before It Begins
Here are four relapse prevention tips in one. There are physiological and emotional states that leave addicts and alcoholics especially susceptible to relapse. Minding these is key to staying sober, and they spell out the acronym H.A.L.T.
- Hungry – An empty stomach is a powerful ally for relapse. Letting yourself get too hungry can intensify cravings and lower your ability to withstand them.
- Angry – If you get upset, that feeling is often followed by a wave of “Forget this, forget everything. I don’t care.” In this state, the escapism of using can seem attractive, though it will only make everything worse. Exercise or meditation can help you either redirect or let go of anger.
- Lonely – Isolating is hallmark behavior of the addict. The more time you spend alone, the further you get away from a healthy and sustainable recovery. Use your network!
- Tired – Our patience and resiliency are at their lowest when we are exhausted. Be attuned if you’re more irritable or short-tempered than usual. Chances are good a little extra rest will do you a world of good.
Five Rules of Recovery
Relapse prevention isn’t as simple as ending your relationship with drugs and alcohol. Preventing relapse requires taking an active role in your recovery. Here, we’ll explore the five rules of recovery that can help you stay on track, even when temptations arise.
Change Your Life
Successful, long-term recovery requires the creation of a life in which it’s easier to stay away from your substance of choice.
Be Completely Honest
Addiction begets lying. When you’re working on your recovery, complete honesty is key. When you find yourself telling fibs, or thinking about telling a “harmless” lie, you’re walking a dangerous line.
Ask For Help
Many people who struggle with addiction believe that they can overcome the problem on their own. While this may be true in rare cases, going through recovery alone is extremely difficult, and in most cases, impossible. Working your program or utilizing an outpatient drug treatment center can be life-saving.
For most people, using drugs and/or alcohol is a way to reward themselves, or to relax and unwind. When you practice proper self-care, you can meet these needs without using them. Self-care is not selfish. When you take care of yourself, you’re able to show up for others in a way that wasn’t possible when you were using.
Don’t Bend the Rules
If you find yourself searching for loopholes within the rules of recovery, you’re dangerously close to relapse. Making secret deals with yourself that you’ll be able to use later in life – once you have things “under control” – is a sign that you need to reach out for support immediately.
Common Triggers: What You Need To Know
Knowing your triggers is a valuable part of what you’ll learn at our drug and alcohol treatment centers in Ogden Utah Ogden UT.
- In addition to H.A.L.T., some other common relapse triggers include:
- Post-acute withdrawal symptoms
- People, places, and things that remind you of using
- Poor self-care
- Relationships and sex (especially when something goes wrong)
- Overconfidence (thinking that you’re strong enough in your recovery that you can stop working on your program)
Stages of Relapse
Relapse is far more complicated than the act of returning to drug or alcohol use. The process of relapse may start long before the physical act of using takes place.
Stages of relapse include:
- Emotional relapse: Use doesn’t occur during this stage. Emotional relapse sets you up for the potential to use in the future. Signs of emotional relapse are congruent with post-acute withdrawal and may include mood swings, isolation, refusal to ask for help, poor self-care, and anxiety.
- Mental relapse: In this stage, thoughts like, “I could have a drink and then get right back on track,” or “I could use a night out with my old friends,” start to creep up. While active use isn’t happening yet, thoughts are headed in that direction.
- Physical relapse: Drinking or drug use occurs here, after emotional and mental relapse. Relapse and recovery go hand and hand for some, but it doesn’t have to be this way for you. The good news: relapse recovery is possible.
Make the Decision to Go to Any Length to Stay Sober
While relapse prevention tips are good to know, they’re only worth as much as you act on them. We know the phenomenon of the “thousand-pound phone”; even if your phone is full of sober contacts you can reach out to, actually doing so when you’re tempted to drink or use can feel daunting. But this is what separates actually staying sober from just knowing how to stay sober.
Contact Renaissance Ranch Ogden for Relapse Prevention and Addiction Recovery in Utah
Commit to your sober life fully; don’t try to keep one foot in the past. Use all the tools you learned in treatment and you will come to know a brighter, more satisfying, ultimately sustainable way of living.
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