When you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, having a loving support group of individuals who are highly committed to recovery and sobriety is important. Friends and family can help make recovery treatment successful and can also act as ‘watchmen’ on the road to recovery.
Relapse is so common in the alcohol and drug recovery process, that it is estimated more than 90 percent of those in recovery have at least one relapse before they achieve lasting sobriety. But a relapse, sometimes called a “slip,” doesn’t begin when you pick up a drink or a drug. It is a slow process that begins long before you actually use. Having those Watchmen can help spot the signs early.
Are you or someone you know, going through these?
10 Signs of a Potential Relapse:
- Change in Attitude. For some reason have you decided that participating in your recovery program is just not as important as it used to be? You may have returned to what some call “stinking thinking” or unhealthy or addictive thinking. Basically, you are not working your program as you did previously. You feel something is wrong, but can’t identify exactly what it is.
- Changes in Behaviour. Have you started to change the daily routine that you developed in early sobriety that helped you replace your compulsive behaviors with healthy alternatives? You might begin to practice avoidance or become defensive in situations that call for an honest evaluation of your behavior. You could begin using poor judgment and causing yourself problems due to impulsive behavior without thinking things through.
- Elevated Stress. An increase in stress in your life can be due to a major change in circumstances or just little things building up. Are you noticing that stress is causing doubt in your own recovery? Returning to the “real world” after a stint in a recovery treatment home can present many stressful situations. The danger is if you begin over-reacting to those situations. Be careful if you begin to have mood swings and exaggerated positive or negative feelings.
- Reactivation of Denial. This is not denial that you have a drug or alcohol problem, it’s denial that the stress is getting to you. Have you tried to convince yourself that everything is ok? It’s not. You may be scared or worried, but you dismiss those feelings and you stop sharing those feelings with others. This is dangerous because this denial is very similar to denial of drug addiction or abuse.
- Recurrence of Withdrawal Symptoms. Anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and memory loss can continue long after you quit drinking or doing drugs. Known as ‘postacute withdrawal symptoms’, these can return during times of stress. They are dangerous because you may be tempted to self-medicate them with alcohol or drugs.
- Social Anxieties. Are you feeling uncomfortable around others and making excuses not to socialize? You stop hanging around sober friends or you withdraw from family members. You stop going to your support group meetings or you cut way back on the number of meetings you attend. You begin to isolate yourself.
- Loss of Structure. Have you begun to completely abandon the daily routine or schedule that you developed in early sobriety? You may begin sleeping late or ignoring personal hygiene or skipping meals. You stop making constructive plans and when the plans you do make don’t work out, you overreact. You begin focusing on one small part of life to the exclusion of everything else.
- Loss of Judgment. Are you having trouble making decisions or are you making unhealthy decisions? You may experience difficulty in managing your feelings and emotions. It may be hard to think clearly and you become confused easily. You may feel overwhelmed for no apparent reason or not being able to relax. You may become annoyed or angry easily.
- Loss of Control. Are you making irrational choices and unable to interrupt or alter those choices? You may begin to actively cut off people who can help you. You begin to think that you can return to social drinking and recreational drug use and you can control it. You may begin to believe there is no hope. You lose confidence in your ability to manage your life.
- Loss of Options. Are you limiting your options? You stop attending meetings with counselors and your support groups and discontinue any pharmacotherapy treatments. You may feel loneliness, frustration, anger, resentment and tension. You might feel helpless and desperate. You come to believe that there are only three ways out: insanity, suicide, or self-medication with alcohol or drugs.
Relapse. Have you attempted controlled, “social” or short-term alcohol or drug use, but you are disappointed at the results and immediately experience shame and guilt? You quickly lose control and your alcohol and drug use spirals further out of control. This causes you increasing problems with relationships, jobs, money, mental and physical health. You need help getting sober again.
Relapse Is Preventable.
Relapse following treatment for drug and alcohol addiction is common and predictable, but it is also preventable. Knowing the warning signs and steps that lead up to a relapse can help you make healthy choices and take alternative action.
If a relapse does happen, it is not the end of the world. If it happens, it is important that you get back up, dust yourself off and get back on the path to recovery.
Call us. We can help.