Relapse refers to the return to substance abuse after a period of abstinence, or sobriety. It can happen while you’re in rehab, or it can happen after decades of sobriety and living in recovery. Recovering addicts can experience agonizing fear, doubt, cravings and a sense of instability during recovery. These insecurities, sense of loss, and danger of being drawn back into the addiction can drag on for much longer, even years.
Relapse prevention is something that must begin before the threat of drug use even arises. At White Sands Treatment Center, part of the rehabilitation process involves the creation of a drug and alcohol relapse prevention plan that every patient can take with them once they leave. These relapse prevention strategies can save lives, and help recovering addicts know how to deal with emotional triggers and tempting social situations. With the coping and recovery tools learned through our relapse prevention training, every patient can achieve and maintain long term sobriety if they stay committed and follow the plan.
Because staying sober can be difficult for many, and not everyone can say no to temptation, it is important to have support from friends, family and addiction professionals. It is essential that every recovering addict have access to help from these individuals whenever needed. Sober coaches or sponsors available through AA or NA programs can assist those who are struggling with thoughts of relapse. Group meetings and our programs can be instrumental and provide many benefits, including:
Every person and every situation is different, but being aware of some of the more common warning signs of a setback can mean the difference between life and death. Because relapses can happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and it may be difficult for the individual to reach out for help, it is important that these common social and emotional relapse triggers are known.
Some factors that could lead to relapse may include:
The first phase is emotional relapse. During this stage, the individual is not actively thinking about using, but his or her emotions are fragile. They may begin to feel anxious, angry or irritable, and these feelings can come in waves.
Mental relapse is the second stage. At this point, the individual is struggling internally and mentally about consuming the drug. At its worst, it is characterized by incessant thoughts and a change in behavior. These can include thoughts about places and people from the past, lying, dreaming about using and reconnecting with old friends who still use drugs.
The last stage is physical. This is the moment the individual decides to partake in drug use, and goes through with it.
Here at White Sands Treatment Center, our goal is to help every patient create a plan that will help them face daily life and help them to better cope with the emotional and psychological triggers of addiction. We teach patients how to think and behave differently than they did in the past. Cravings can be managed through other activities such as a new hobby, exercise, music or other forms of art. By engaging in other social activities and sharing their thoughts and experiences with others, recovering addicts have a much higher chance of staying sober.
Learning how to avoid triggers is also an essential tool taught during relapse prevention training. Avoiding old friends who use drugs and places you once frequented can be very helpful in preventing a setback. Always having someone to support you and help you through difficult times is of utmost importance. They can help guide you through situations or moments that you feel overwhelmed. Support meetings and individual counseling can help reinforce your prevention strategies and help you stay accountable to your recovery process.
Learn from the relapse. Identify your vulnerabilities, and work on overcoming them. Remind yourself why you gave up the addictive behavior in the first place. Recommit yourself to your recovery.