Relapse Prevention

By: Jamie Staggs
Relapse is a term to describe a recovering addict who slips back into drug or alcohol use. Relapse can begin to occur long before the person takes that sip of alcohol or that hit. Below are some common warning signs that a relapse is eminent.

Warning Signs of a Relapse

1. The recovering substance abuser continues to be around drugs or alcohol, other users, or places where they once bought or used drugs or alcohol.

2. The recovering addict is consistently angry, sad, lonely, fearful or anxious.

3. The recovering addict feels bored without drugs.

4. The recovering addict is going through some physical pain.

5. The recovering addict continues to talk about drugs or enjoys listening to others' drug use stories.

6. The recovering addict believes they no longer feel controlled by or have to worry about drug cravings, so they are allowed to indulge in drug or alcohol use occasionally.

The decision to quit using drugs or alcohol is only the first step towards addiction recovery. This does not mean that the addict's problems will vanish as soon as they stop using drugs. On the contrary, many of those problems will remain with them throughout the recovery process. They will have to find other ways to solve these issues without hiding them with drugs or alcohol. They may be excited about the possibilities of beginning anew, while saddened by the old life they must leave behind. Recovery is a very confusing and trying time for an addict and can make them question whether they have what it takes to succeed in their quest for sobriety.

Avoiding a Relapse

It is during this critical phase that a recovering addict is most susceptible to relapsing on drugs. To avoid relapsing on drugs or alcohol, a recovering addict should take pains to put preventative measures into place.

1. Take day-to-day problems as they come. A recovering addict should never minimize daily problems, they should confront the head-on, the way they did addiction.

2. Balance work with relaxation. To avoid stress, a recovering addict should allow themselves simple and relaxing rewards such as time to indulge in a hobby or read a book.

3. Join a support group. A recovering addict should join a recovery group or find a counselor or trusted friend or family member to share the pressures they are feeling while struggling with recovery.
4. Plan for risky situations. It is almost inevitable that the recovering addict will eventually find themselve in a situation with drug and alcohol around and they will really be compelled to use them. By knowing about these situations ahead of time, the recovering addict will be more likely to successfully avoid a relapse.

While nobody can control everything in life, or manage every situation the way they intended to, by having a plan in place a recovering addict increases their chances of living a successful drug-free life. A person may slip and use drug or alcohol but it is important that they do not use this as an excuse to give up their recovery and continue using. Rather, they should learn from this slip to avoid having the same situation happen in the future.
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