Signs of Relapse
Ideally, no addict who begins recovery would ever have to struggle with relapse. However, relapse happens to a significant number of individuals who are trying to overcome addiction and maintain sobriety. By recognizing the signs of relapse, individuals can seek help for themselves or their loved ones.
Ceasing Consumption of Medicine
For many individuals who are in the process of recovering from an addiction, pharmacological medication is part of the treatment. When individuals who are taking medicine decide to stop, it may be a sign of a current or impending relapse.
As many as half of all individuals who struggle with addiction also struggle with some form of mental health disorder or mental illness. Through dual diagnosis treatment, both concerns can be resolved. Often, this is done through a combination of prescription medication and behavioral therapy.
By ceasing consumption of medicine, individuals may fall victim to the same thoughts, feelings and behaviors that first led them to drugs or alcohol. It is vital that anyone who wants to stop taking medication for any reason only do so with the supervision and consent of their physician.
Not Attending Support Groups or Meetings
One of the keys to preventing relapse is having accountability and support that goes beyond the length of a rehab program. Long after an addiction treatment program has ended, patients will need ongoing support. This can come in the form of family, close friends, 12-Step meetings or support groups for addicts. Quitting any or all of these support groups may be a sign of impending relapse.
When people stop attending group meetings or support groups, it is often for one of two reasons. The first reason is because they no longer feel that they need to spend the time in these group meetings. Unfortunately, this often leads to relapse, as individuals will no longer have the support or the outlet that they are accustomed to.
The second reason an individual might stop attending support and group meetings is because they have already relapsed. Often, those who relapse are ashamed to reveal their relapse to their peers. However, support group members are exactly who individuals should seek help from after a relapse, because many will have been through a similar situation.
Spending Time With Addicts
Recovering from an addiction is a challenge, and it can be difficult to resist cravings and temptation. For that reason, many individuals who are in recovery from addiction choose not to spend time with those that abuse their substance of choice. When these friendships are rekindled, it could be the sign of relapse.
Two individuals who are both in recovery can be of great comfort to one another. When one person is in recovery and one is still in the throes of addiction, however, there is a recipe for disaster. This kind of environment is simply too difficult for a sober person to endure on a regular basis. If someone you love or care about is spending time with friends who are addicts, then it is a clear warning sign that should not be ignored.
No Longer Adhering to a Healthy Routine
In addiction treatment, many patients create a healthy routine for themselves. Routine is a great tool for those in recovery, because it eliminates the need for too many decisions. If there are healthy habits in place, then it is easy to do the right thing.
Outside of rehab, it takes commitment to stick to a healthy routine. Individuals might wake up at a certain time, spend an hour exercising or meditating, go to work, attend a group therapy or support meeting, eat a nutritious meal and then relax with a favorite pastime. This kind of routine encourages health, mindfulness and sobriety.
When the routine is broken, there are suddenly more choices than ever before. Individuals might be faced with temptation at every corner. Relapse definitely breaks routine and encourages individuals to stop their healthy habits. That’s why a disrupted routine is a clear sign of a current or potential relapse ahead.
Romanticizing the Past
It is normal to romanticize aspects of the past. Many people remember their first loves with pleasure, even if the relationship failed or ended poorly. Nostalgia is a strong response and good memories can be stronger than the bad. However, it is dangerous to remember the past fondly if it contained addiction.
Those who have struggled with addiction in the past need to remember the reality of their addiction. It is important to recall the financial, relationship, psychological and health problems that accompanied drug or alcohol use. If a person is openly romanticizing addiction or abuse, be alert to any signs of relapse.
Questioning the Necessity of Abstinence
A critical component of lasting recovery from addiction is complete sobriety. A person who has struggled with addiction can’t have a single drink or a single dose of drugs. This creates a slippery slope that can lead to relapse or a full-blown addiction.
That’s why it is important to pay attention to those individuals who begin to question the necessity of abstinence. This can happen often, particularly after a year of successful sobriety. Individuals may want to test themselves and see if they can resist addiction, but this is a dangerous move that can lead to devastating results. It is far, far better to conclude that abstinence from an addictive substance is vital and that complete sobriety is the best route to a lifetime free from addiction.
Denial commonly accompanies a relapse. Individuals may be on the verge of relapse, but are in denial about their need for help. Others may have already relapsed, but are in denial about that fact. Still more may be in denial that they were ever truly addicted.
All of these forms of denial are a way to avoid the hard work and focus that recovery requires. However, the right support and treatment can prevent patients from going backwards, and it can put them on the path toward a lifetime of sobriety.
Relapse doesn’t mean failure. It may be a step back, but those who struggle with relapse can still move forward toward the healthy, happy lives they deserve.