It’s every addict, doctor, and treatment center’s worst nightmare. Relapse. When a former addict of a substance has not used a substance for a while, and then uses it again, he or she undergoes relapse.
Relapses can be small – one beer at the bar, one cigarette at work, or one pill at a party, or it can be large – uncontrollable binge smoking and drinking which leads to even more destructive behaviors.
To understand proper coping methods to prevent reuse of drugs, we must first understand relapse, why it occurs, and how to prevent it.
As previously stated, relapse is when a user uses substances after a period of sobriety or abstinence. Relapse is completely normal, and happens to a lot of recovering addicts during their struggles. Relapse is quite common among recovering users who are trying to find a life to live without drugs.
Quitting drug use is like quitting any substances that makes people happy – like television or snacks. Occasional slip ups will occur as a person works their hardest to get clean.
However, relapse can be extremely deadly. It’s very common for a patient who undergoes detox to die from relapse, because their bodies are no longer used to having a large amount of drugs inside of them. Overdosing is one of the most common killers in relapse scenarios.
Why do People Relapse?
A relapse can be a difficult thing to understand at times. A patient has undergone detox, intensive therapy, counseling, or may even be under medication. Why did they go back?
In fact, a majority of relapses happen to patients when they’re fresh out of rehab (first year).
Let’s look at some of the most common causes of relapse, and afterwards discuss prevention techniques.
- Mental Health Issues – Negative states of mind, such as depression, anger, and even anxiety can be a precursor to relapse. Somebody can use drugs to attempt to deal with these mental issues. For example, a man who’s been clean from alcohol for 6 months may start drinking again at a social venue to overcome his anxiety and shyness.
- Negative Outside Pressure – A friend, acquaintance, or total stranger could tempt a sober person to start using again. This is especially likely for people who have a hard time making friends. Many times, an ex-addict will leave rehab, only to meet up with some of their old drug using friends and become tempted again.
- Positive Outside Pressure – Sometimes you can be around positive influences and find yourself in a situation to drink again. An example is if you quit alcohol but your best friend’s having a birthday party and everybody wants to take one drink for the birthday boy.
- Lack of Direction – When addicts are using, they are happy. When they are in therapy, they are trying to recover. When they leave rehab, they can sometimes find themselves in a plane of thought that puts them as a small fish in a big world. They don’t know what to do – a life without drugs doesn’t seem to be a life at all, and because there’s nothing better to do, they go back to using.
To combat the risk of relapse, there are several measure one can take to ensure they live a substance-free life.
- Tell Your Friends and Family – Letting people know you’re trying to get clean is a great way to have an accountability network in real life. Your friends and family will respect it, and will no longer pressure you to take a drink every once in a while.
- Surround Yourself With Goodness – If you had a lot of friends who used during your addiction period, letting go of some of those friends can be the best thing you do for your sobriety. You will not be tempted by them to use again, and many times will find that the only thing you had in common with them was drug addiction.
- Consider Counseling – Having sessions with a professional counselor can help you stay on track mentally and help you commit to your sobriety. It’s hard to go at it alone, and a counselor can make or break your rehabilitation.
- Have a Relapse Plan Before Leaving Rehab – You can work with some of the rehab staff (many facilities will work with you) to have a framework set in stone to ensure you don’t relapse.
- Post-Rehab Support Groups – Support groups are great for people to support each other and keep each other accountable. Having some sort of network after your rehab will greatly decrease your chance of relapsing.
To find what prevention techniques will benefit you the most, always consult a medical professional. Call Sunflower Wellness at 913-755-4357 today.