So you’ve finished rehab, gotten clean, and you’re trying to get back into the normal swing of things. Your addiction is behind you, which means the hard part’s over, and it should be smooth sailing from here on out… right?
Well, unfortunately, the answer is no. Although getting clean is quite an accomplishment and you deserve a big congratulations, the work has just begun. Maintaining a sober, healthy lifestyle through the years to come is challenging. It requires dedication, long-term commitment, and an understanding of relapse risk factors.
Relapse Quick Facts:
- 40%-60% of all recovering addicts will relapse at some point. Just because you’ve gotten clean, that doesn’t mean the addiction is cured. It is a chronic brain disease which predisposes you to substance abuse for the rest of your life.
- Relapse can still happen even after years, or decades of sober living.
- There are three stages of relapse.
- Emotional Relapse: when your mood starts to dip and you start skipping on self-care habits.
- Mental Relapse: when you start to think about using, and the cravings set in.
- Physical Relapse: when you actually use drugs or alcohol or go back to the problematic behavior.
- A trigger is anything that increases the cravings you feel for your drug of choice and makes it more difficult for you to say no. Triggers can be people, places, things, feelings, images, ideas, words, phrases, and more.
Although relapse is common, it is also preventable. Avoiding these 7 common triggering situations will make it easier for you to stick with your decision to stay sober.
Keeping to yourself may feel like a relief at first, but after a while, isolation can turn into a dangerous situation.
Feeling lonely is one of the top triggers for relapse. That’s because not getting enough social contact can damage your self-esteem, and decrease your accountability. If you’re self-isolating, it’s very easy to relapse because it seems like no one else cares. Even though that’s not true, it can certainly feel that way when you’re on your own.
Try to keep up with your friends and family as much as possible, and also work with a therapist, support group, or sponsor.
2. Those Same Old Spots
Don’t go back to those places you used to drink or take drugs. Avoid them as much as possible because they can bring up heavy emotions, and instantly cause cravings to set in.
Ask your friends to hang out with you in new places. Although it’s sad to let go of a place with so many memories, there’s a whole world out there to explore and no shortage of wonderful new places to visit.
3. Using Too Much Prescription or OTC Medication
Taking medication, especially when its self-prescribed, can quickly escalate to relapse. Many medications have some mild mind-altering effects which can prompt you to crave more, and go seek out the stronger stuff.
Additionally, over-using medications can be a sneaky sign that you’re avoiding underlying emotional problems like anxiety or depression. Those issues can manifest as aches, pains, lethargy, or minor illness which can be temporarily masked by medication.
Avoid relying on unnecessary medication all the time. Confront your issues, instead of covering them up with an ibuprofen and a band-aid. Talk to your doctor about your current symptoms, ALL of the medications your taking, as well as your history of addiction so you can come up with a reasonable treatment plan for your real medical issues.
4. Physical Stress
Feeling bad impairs our judgment and decision-making skills, and it also increases cravings for drugs and alcohol. Injuries, illness, stress, exhaustion, hunger, sleeplessness, and eating a poor diet can lead to relapse because these things weaken our bodies, and negatively affect our mood.
From here on out, be sure to take extra good care of your body. It’s well worth the effort because not only will you feel better and protect your long-term health, you’ll also be preventing addiction relapse.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to take a vow of celibacy or anything like that to heal from addiction. However, taking a short break from the dating scene during the first few months of recovery can really help. Since we are at the highest risk for relapse right after completing rehab, we have to be very, very careful about taking part in activities that are extremely emotional, like dating.
Creating intimacy is a beautiful part of life, but it often comes with a fair share of insecurity, failure, jealousy, and confusion. Not to mention, many people struggle with intimacy because it brings up traumatic memories from childhood and previous relationships. Those complicated feelings and memories that accompany dating can increase our risk for relapse.
Take it easy for a while before you start a new love story, and focus on you for now.
6. Bars, Concerts and Parties
Many recovered addicts are able to visit places like these, but only after they’ve firmly established their new sober lifestyle. Bars, concerts, and parties are places where drugs or alcohol are present in a carefree type of environment make relapse seem tempting. Seeing other people let loose and become inebriated can understandably make you feel like doing the same.
For the first few months or years after rehab, stay away from places like these where substances are readily available. Look for fun sober events, and plan your social outings to places where drugs and alcohol aren’t a major part of the scenery.
7. Using “Less Extreme” Substances
Many recovering addicts are tempted to use “lighter” substances when they’re feeling cravings for their drug of choice. They may justify taking a puff of weed or half of a prescription pill because those things aren’t as bad as, say, crystal meth. While that may seem true, using lighter substances can still set you up for full-blown relapse.
Get Help Today
If you’re struggling to get by without a little hit of something, that means you’ve already emotionally and mentally relapsed and you’re only 1 step away from completely losing control.
Don’t minimize any form of your drug use. If you’re getting high, then you’re in a relapsed state and it’s time to reach for help. Contact our Los Angeles treatment center today to learn more about the healing process. It’s time to live the life you deserve.