Relapse Prevention

Staying sober after detox and building strong relapse prevention coping skills can be difficult for a person who struggle with a previous addiction with alcohol. Who’s to blame them, as the substance is highly potent when it comes in contact with the body and can cause both short and long term damages when consumed too frequently. Even if a person successfully weans off their alcohol consumptions and completes a healthy rehabilitation program, those urges to drink again and relapse can be incredibly strong. Especially when life becomes busy and deadlines become tight, poor mental health and decreased stress management can act in synergy to push submerged urges to drink to the surface. As a result, having a relapse prevention strategy is key to staying healthy and sober as possible. This can be formulated by finding holistic methods of treatment, having healthy lifestyle habits, and being mindful of your own body throughout the process.

Relapse coping skills are important for alcohol recovery.

Addiction As A Whole

Alcohol and drug addiction is classified by experts as a chronic brain disease that largely influences a person’s behavioral, biological, social, emotional, and physical features over time. Binging on a substance that can so strongly affect the body leads to an inability to control substance abuse. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise that so many people fall victim to relapse after they put all the time and energy into becoming healthy again. The National Institute on Drug Abuse stated not too long ago that the relapse rates for addiction is as high as other dangerous diseases we commonly hear about like asthma or diabetes. They estimate relapse to affect between 40 and 60 percent of all rehab patients, an enormous group of people if you think about the millions struggling with sobriety in the grand scheme of things.

When relapse occurs, a person innately returns to substance abuse after a certain length of time of being drug or alcohol free. The act of staying sober after detox becomes a thin line of not giving into outside forces and temptations to consume the substance again. Someone struggling with relapse and drug dependency may not feel exactly “normal” in the beginning without the substance’s effect in their body. To some, returning to taking the substance may help the body get back to what feels normal, lower withdrawal symptoms, and ease off the uncomfortable cravings. It’s similar to being addicted to eating a lot of sugar or carbohydrates throughout the day. After eating foods or drinks that contain high amounts of it, the body gets used to the “high” effect it brings and begins to intensely crave it again if it’s suddenly removed from the system. This withdrawal experience overall is called a “trigger”, and without carefully planned systems to cope with them, a person may find themselves back to square one in their rehab.

Signs You’re Relapsing

If you’re feeling that it’s hard to stay sober after detox, being aware of the symptoms of relapsing first is crucial to you knowing what to do when it strikes. First, it is important to understand triggers that we mentioned before so you become expectant of what your body may feel. Triggers are what leads a person back to the substance they’ve avoided, whether it’s hearing a certain person, a specific place, being at certain types of events, or even having unresolved mental issues that existed along with the addiction like depression or anxiety. When a person undergoes addiction treatment beforehand, their therapist will usually help them understand how those things could trigger such a relapse. For example, seeing a friend from college a person used to drink everyday with, a bar someone used to spend a lot of time at, or even reading old text messages or watching past social media stories of drinking can quickly trigger a relapse. Some people in recovery may even try to intentionally revisit these old memories just from longing for the strong connection they once had.

Yet, the top ways to spot a relapse is when that longing turns into romanticizing about the days of using alcohol or drugs. If you find yourself smiling about the “old times” and conveniently forget the negative mistakes that came later from drug or alcohol use, you have a strong warning sign on your hands. If an addict begins to act like they did when they were on the substance while being sober, they’re also in the hot seat for relapse as they’re having a low tolerance with frustration. That negativity can totally undo all the progress a person has built up to be sober, as they may stop reaching out to the healthier resources they found. If anyone brings up the change in attitude or behavior, they may lash out or act defensive as they don’t want others to take notice. Either way, taking notice in the ways your mind is processing feelings, events, or people is key to acknowledging a relapse in the present or future.

 There’s Always Hope

There is always room for improvement when you start to feel the pull toward a drink or drug. The important thing for your sanity is to recognize that a relapse is occurring and be honest about the way you think and behave. Usually, what seemed like a random urge or action to reach for the drug is really the result of a slow progression over time. If that person took the time to look back over the last several days of their lifestyle, they might identify that smoking that joint or ordering that drink was no meaningless mistake. The sooner a person can catch themselves slipping back into old behaviors, the higher the success rate they’ll have to get back on the bandwagon. Identify what triggers your body, abstain from those temptations, and build relapse prevention coping skills with accessible activities that are healthy alternatives. It can be joining a sports club, a creative music class, or even just taking some time to clean up your house. It can be joining a sports club, a creative music class, or even just taking some time to clean up your house. Anything that forms special skills and gets your mind running off addictive substances is great to build your progress!

Physical symptoms of alcoholism can be tough to deal with.

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