Recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction can be one of the most difficult tribulations any individual can go through. Unfortunately, many of those who seek sobriety and seem to be doing well end up relapsing, which means falling back into their old lifestyle of drug abuse.
When this problem occurs, the addict can experience a variety of emotions, from sadness to frustration, and her loved ones who have invested time and energy into the recovery may suffer as well if an addict relapses. Seek help now to know when more treatment is needed to get recovery on track.
How do You Know When You Need Additional Addiction Treatment?
Fortunately, if you or a loved one has recently gone through treatment for either a drug or alcohol addiction, then numerous warning signs signal that a relapse is near. Learn these signs to help yourself anticipate problems. As any recovering addict can tell you, it is easier to achieve sobriety when you have the full support of family and friends who provide both their love.
According to Recovery.org, it is important that both loved ones and the recovering addict watch for the warning signs of a relapse, because then they can all step in and help out before the recovering addict experiences a full-blown relapse. Included in the following list are some of the most common warning signs that an individual is on the verge of relapse:
- Believing you can use once without falling back into old habits
- Reconnecting with old friends with whom the addict abused drugs
- Changes in attitude and behavior
- Break downs in social relationships
One of the most important lessons a recovering addict should remember along with those around him is that relapse warning signs, such as those listed above, do not mean the recovering addict has failed. After all, we are all only human, so even the strongest individuals experience intense moments of poor judgment or weakness. Unfortunately, the truth is that relapses are extremely common for people who are attempting to achieve sobriety from either drug or alcohol abuse.
What Causes a Relapse?
Psychology Today cites a study that shows nearly 70 to 90 percent of recovering addicts experienced at least one mild to moderate slip in there sobriety after they left treatment; in fact, it is rare that an individual decides to get sober, walk into a treatment facility and never uses drugs again. Included in the following are some examples on why an individual may experience a mild to severe relapse:
Typically, addicts who relapse on drugs nearly always do so due to their response to drug-related cues, such as seeing drug paraphernalia, scents that remind them of their use or visiting locations where they once used drugs. These cues are often referred to as “triggers,” which vary from addict to addict. Treatment helps addicts identify their personal triggers as well as learn how to avoid them. Triggers are byproducts of addiction’s two-stage formation process. During the first stage, an individual’s reward function of the brain is hyper-stimulated during drug abuse: taking drugs makes the user feel good, almost euphoric, which encourages her to chase the initial high with more drug abuse. While in the second stage, this repeated stimulation of the brain’s reward center causes long-term changes in how the brain works with memory, impulsivity and decision-making.
When a recovering addict is placed in an environment where he knows how to obtain drugs, who he can get them from and where he can safely use them without interruption, it becomes difficult for him to maintain his sobriety. Cravings can strike at any moment—simply watching a favorite television show can cause one. An individual who is overcoming alcoholism may be ok until a commercial promotes a favorite alcohol. These cravings can be so intense that they cause someone to relapse despite the energy and time he spent to achieve sobriety. Although most cravings may only last a few minutes, the individual is at risk if he lacks a plan on how to distract himself during this trying moment.
Many people first seek drugs for a few common reasons, such as constantly feeling stressed, overwhelmed or suffering from anxiety along with a traumatic event such as a rape, loss of a loved one or mental/physical abuse. Without healing from these events or learning how cope with everyday stress, a recovering addict may find herself on the verge of using drugs again and in full relapse.