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Watch out for These 7 Signs to Avoid a Relapse

After successful completion of a primary treatment program, the recovery process for an addict begins.  Addiction recovery needs to address the person’s mind and behavior patterns as the individual’s body heals. Addiction affects brain functioning, which is one reason why chemical dependency is so complex. While treatment may get rid of the immediate chemical components from the body, recovery is still needed to address the mental aspects of addiction.

The Perils of Relapse

Relapse is an extremely common occurrence for recovering substance abusers. Former users who complete a short treatment program in six weeks or less, tend to be incredibly prone to relapse.

Relapse possibilities increase even more so if the individual returns to their former living environment, where old influences and real world triggers are too numerous to count. The recovering person is at dangerous risk if they do not participate in regular recovery programs. Addiction counseling with a specialist, twelve-step meetings, and separate meetings with a sponsor can help in combating the perils of a potential relapse. 

7 Signs of a Nearing Relapse

1.     Spending Time with Old Friends and Acquaintances

Reconnecting with old friends can be great for the average person. However, a recovering addict, especially a person whose treatment completion was recent, should not be around old friends or acquaintances. Typically, recovering substance abusers spend time with other people in recovery. This can be at twelve-step meetings, group therapy with a counselor, or in a sober living home.

Spending time with old friends, even if they had no part in contributing to your substance addiction, is problematic. Social gatherings often revolve around alcohol, and a casual, harmless drink means something different to a recovering addict. It is important to focus your energy on therapy and healing. During the earliest stages of recovery it is necessary to surround yourself with addiction experts, therapists, mentors, your sponsor and peers in recovery.

2.     You Stop Participating in Addiction Therapy

Therapy can be one of the most powerful tools (outside of medical intervention) for battling an active addiction. Licensed drug and alcohol counselors get to the root cause of your addiction, thus creating healing from the inside out. No addiction can be healed with the same thought process that the addiction was born in. Therapy can change your thought process for the better. However, therapy is an exchange. Your therapist is there to support you and if you stop participating, they cannot help. A sign that a relapse may be near is if the patient becomes disillusioned with therapy and stops attending or is not mentally present in sessions. 

3.     Change in Mood 

In addition to disillusionment with therapy, a change in mood may be a sign of a nearing relapse. Recovery is a completely different world, largely due to the absence of drugs or alcohol. For many recovering addicts, it can feel like a new life. The adjustment to living without chemical support may not be easy. Recovery is not linear and there will be setbacks and struggles. But in dealing with those struggles, intense irritability or moodiness may result. If those negative behaviors become more frequent, share it with your sponsor or therapist. Don’t keep it to yourself. It may be a sign of something more serious.

4.     You Start to Lash Out at Your Recovery Support System

It may not be easy to accept your new life without drugs or alcohol. Even if you have made the suggested steps of living in a controlled environment, the absence of drugs or alcohol may be unbearable. Your addiction urges may be rising and you may hate the requirements that you must abide by in order to stay sober.

The transition becomes problematic when you turn your anger outward at others like your 12-step group members, your sponsor, or your addiction therapist. It is important to discuss those feelings as a way to determine how to manage that anger. If you lash out and then cease contact, a relapse may occur.

5.     Not Having a Routine

Routines, structure, and boundaries are essential components for a person in recovery. Sober living and addiction counselors advocate finding healthy activities in post-treatment life.

While relapses can occur without warning, there are certain factors that may increase risks. Having too much free time, boredom, or quitting a job may be predictors for relapse.

6.     Impulsivity

Addictive, compulsive behavior is the opposite of the calm and control that is needed for managing recovery. While compulsion is the repetition of harmful behaviors, beginning signs of impulsive acts may indicate a future relapse. An example would be skipping therapy sessions without notice or quitting classes on a whim. It is important to control these behaviors, because it may lead to an impulsive return to drug and alcohol use. Discuss these behaviors with an addiction therapist to determine your next step.

7.     Longing for the Past

If you start to long for your past life, when you used drugs or alcohol, that may be a sign of a nearing relapse. That longing may be rooted in growing addiction cravings, which is common for any recovering addict. However, that longing is often kept secret, just like substance abuse often is. It is important to voice those desires out loud in a trusted and safe space. Bringing it up to your therapist is incredibly beneficial. He or she may be able to help you pinpoint when that longing started and where you think it might lead.

Acknowledge the Possibilities of Relapse

Addiction is a chemical dependency and a chronic illness that affects the mind and body. While addiction can initially be treated through primary treatment and detox, people will be in recovery for the rest of their lives. A relapse is always a possibility, whether they have been sober for twenty days or twenty years. The return to substance abuse is a force that needs to be consistently acknowledged.

Building Resilience through Addiction Counseling

Building resilience to battle triggers and stressful environments can be achieved through mindfulness, recovery groups, and by engaging in therapeutic work with a drug and alcohol counselor. Don’t be part of the relapse statistics. Share your struggles, establish a trusted support network, and begin therapeutic work with an addiction counselor today. Comment in the section below if you recognize these signs and feel you may be in danger of a relapse.

 

 

 

 


Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.