Why Does A Relapse Happen?

11/22/19: Relapse Prevention
Going into rehab for drugs and alcohol addiction is a very difficult chapter for a person who has been abusing these substances. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get well. However, even the most determined person can fall back into relapse. The question is, why does relapse happen? Does this mean that you have failed as a person to stay well and be drug-free?

Reasons for Relapsing

Getting rid of drug addiction takes time. You may have tried to stop using but you eventually relapse back to the old habit. Relapse happens when the disease of addiction reoccurs after a period of recovery or abstinence. There are plenty of reasons why relapse happens so you cannot say that this is caused by one reason only. The question is, is there a way to prevent this from happening? Can you really get rid of relapse? Is there are any signs that someone is falling back into their old habits of drug and alcohol abuse again? The truth is, addiction is a chronic illness that never completely goes away. Addicts who have been exposed to these substances have a high chance of becoming addicted again. It is also because of these factors that relapse takes place even if a recovering addict chooses to overcome it. 

3 Stages of Relapse

Before someone fully relapses, there are stages that he or she goes through. A lot of people have a misconception of relapse thinking that this happens the moment a person starts using again. However, there are three stages or cycles of relapse that an addicted person goes through before you can say he or she has a full-blown relapse. Here’s what you need to know: Emotional stage - is the stage where the potential for relapse starts or has an indication that it will start. This stage can involve triggers or situations that could bring out the “need” for drugs and alcohol. Triggers are unavoidable at times which is it is important that you check in with a counselor and have a plan on how to cope when triggers arise. Creating a good defense system during this stage against any of the substances you are addicted to is very important so you do not fall into relapse.  Psychological Stage - this is the stage where a lot of bargaining happens. This means that you as a recovering addict will often have thoughts that “one drink won’t hurt” or “I won’t do this again”. Understand that this is the stage where you are struggling with your past and on to a new life so it is important that you learn the key facts of your journey towards recovery. The moment you have made peace with your past and dedicated life of soberness then you can quit the temptation any time you feel that urge.  Physical stage - the last stage of relapse happens when you actually use drugs and take alcohol. There’s a sense of excitement and euphoria after being sober for so long especially if this is done in a social setting. However, this can encourage the triggers for you since that euphoric feeling doesn’t really last very long. After getting high and the high is over, you will realize that you have relapsed into doing the very thing you have worked hard for so long. 

Signs That You Are Going Into Relapse

There are plenty of signs that you are going into relapse. Some signs are not obvious but these are all factors that you are going to go back into your addictions. Here’s what you need to look out for:
  • A change in attitude - you suddenly don’t feel like your participation in your recovery doesn’t feel as important as it was before. There’s that “something is wrong” feeling but you just cannot pinpoint as to what it is.
  • Increased stress - stress happens to a person every day but this stress don’t really bother a person to use drugs and alcohol. However, if the stressful situation has increased due to unavoidable circumstances, it could lead to using of these substances again. The only red flag is if you over-react to the situation and begin to have mood swings. Feelings of negativity are also a warning sign that you may be under duress. 
  • Being in denial - often times you will feel like you are okay when people around you think that you are not. There is this denial that the stress is taking a toll on you. You try to convince yourself that you are alright but the truth is, you are in denial that things are not going according to plan. The most dangerous part is when you dismiss these feelings and stop letting people know about it. Pent up frustrations, anger, and resentment can lead to relapse for someone who is trying to sober up. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms are evident - if you are having depressions, anxiety, memory loss and lack of sleep then these could be an indication that you are under stress. The dangerous part is when you try to self-medicate these feelings with drugs or alcohol. 
  • Social breakdown - this could be making excuses not to socialize or feelings of being uncomfortable around people. You suddenly stop going to support groups and you begin to isolate yourself. You have abandoned your daily routine, ignoring your personal hygiene and even not eating. All of these could be indicators that you are nearing relapse.
  • Unfocused - you have feelings of being helpless and have trouble making good decisions. You don’t think clearly any longer and become confused really easily. There is an overwhelming feelings for no reason at all, anxiety is always gripping you and you become angry or annoyed easily as well. 
  • No control - irrational choices and cutting off people who are helping you are both signs that you are no longer in control. You think about returning to drinking and drugs and feel like you can control it. You start to lose hope, confidence and even your ability to manage things in your life. 
  • Limited options - you basically stop meeting your counselors and support groups. You may even stop taking your medications. There are feelings of anger, resentment, regret, tension, and loneliness. It is at this stage where you feel desperate and helpless overall. 
  • Going into actual relapse - this is the stage where you are disappointed with your attempts to control your life and at the same time experience the shame and guilt. You lose all your inhibitions and begin to use drugs and alcohol again. 
Relapse happens when you lose control and confidence that you are going to be sober. However, you can be sober and get better. Relapse happens when you allow your weaknesses to get the better of you so stay focused and stay on the right path. If you want to live a better life than dealing with addiction, you must take control and make the right choices, the key is in your hands. 

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact 602-737-1619 or email [email protected] to get the help you need. Our acclaimed recovery environment merges upscale, luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare.

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