Drug addiction is a habit which in not an easy nut to crack. Inspite of a lot of efforts, therapies, and even a long duration of no use, chances are that a person may return back to the old habit of substance consumption. According to the studies of National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 40% to 60% of individuals relapse within the first year of treatment.
However, when a person returns to the drug use after attaining sobriety, they reduce tolerance to the drug. The body of a person isn’t as dependent as it was once and needs less usage of the drugs to feel its effects. But, the feeling of relapse is not really nice. A person experiences feelings of regret or shame. Furthermore, you may feel like giving up the fight against substance abuse, rather than continuing to work hard.
But let’s understand what is ‘relapse’?
A relapse is defined as the worsening of a clinical condition which was previously improved to some extent. It means the resumption of substance consumption after a continuous effort to stop abstinence.
When is the greatest risk of relapse?
The risk of relapse is greatest in the first ninety days of recovery. This period is sensitive to stress and tempts a person to fall back its previous patterns of behaviour. It’s only the willpower and the inner strength that can keep a person stay away from the relapse.
Signs and symptoms of relapse:
The given signs and symptoms will be on the surface if a person would start resuming substance consumption habits once again:
- Changes in physical appearance: A person under alcohol/drug/nicotine consumption starts showing poor hygiene conditions. His/her appearance starts looking dull and does not indulge himself/herself themselves into grooming for a longer period of time.
- Increasing habit of borrowing money: A repeated or unexpected request to borrow money is a strong indicator that a person is constantly under financial crunch. In such a scenario, it’s the duty of a family member to find out the cause behind growing need of money, possibly it might be because of drugs or alcohol.
- Impulsiveness: A person may starts showing rash behaviour that seems out of character. He/she may starts showing anger even on the small talk. In extreme condition, a drug addict may even take a step to harm him/her.
- Starts missing therapies and sessions: Drug and alcohol addicts start missing important therapy sessions which guide them to stay on the path of drug/alcohol de-addiction. Instead, they start investing their time in drug/alcohol consumption.
- Sudden mood changes: The early stages of relapse entail disproportionate emotional responses to conflict, irritation and sadness. The patients undergo sudden mental changes where a person in one moment starts feeling depressed, in another moment he/she gets really excited and so on.
- Returning back to previous contacts: When a person who has just overcome alcohol and drug addiction starts tying knot with old friends and acquaintances associated with drug use or alcohol may fall prey to the feeling of relapse.
What are the common triggers for relapse?
Unfortunately, relapse after gaining soberity is a common occurrence. More than half of the recovering addicts experience this moment of weaknesses. Here are some of the common triggers for relapse:
- Feeling of isolation for too long can lead a person towards relapse.
- Meeting old friends who are drug addicts
- Behavioural issues like – anger, hunger and fatigue
- Over – confidence that you are drinking in moderation
- Visiting places associated with one’s past drug use
- Frequent heartbreaks
There are other causes which bring the person back down to the path of uncontrollable drinking and excessive drug use. Have a look:
- Sobriety is not a top priority: Without a firm commitment to the long – term sobriety, you’re more likely to relapse. In order to be successful, you must be willing to put in the hard work.
- Lack of support system: A person who recently recovers from the substance abuse needs to have a solid network right away. It’s always good to ask your family to keep you accountable and seek spiritual guidance through meditation.
- Make a mind to not to quit alcohol for yourself: In some of the cases, a user develops the substance usage because they are trying to please their friends, family and other social circle, rather than being committed to quit for their own sake.
- Not prepared for life post treatment: Sometimes when a person comes across with uncertain circumstances like – dysfunctional family dynamics, unhealthy daily routines, social isolation and toxic family environment, there are a lot of chances that a person transitions back to the regular life where it could become a difficult for a person to protect his newfound sobriety.
Relapse prevention and treatment:
Patients should learn relapse prevention skills to live a happy and healthy life. So, here we bring the following practice which helps relapse prevention:
- Self – Care: By implementing a balanced diet and physical exercise, we can improve a quality of sleep. This can be done by setting up a structured schedule of eating, exercising and sleeping. This helps retrain the body to experience sound sleep, reducing the risk of relapse.
- Self – Affirmations: Whenever you feel agitated or depressed and feel like going back to the drug/alcohol addictions, you must start uttering positive sentences like – “I am fine.”, “I am an addiction free person”, “My life is beautiful.” Just try this once, it will really help you prevent the risk of relapse.
- Mindful – Meditation: Mindfulness meditation teaches individuals to become self – aware and observe the potential triggers to relapse. So, before the damage happens, an individual starts taking action to correct his/her behaviour.
- Join a support group: When you join a support group, you’re feeling of loneliness and a risk of isolation automatically gets disappeared. This prevents you to get trapped by the risk of relapse.
- Grounding technique: When you apply a grounding technique called 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 -1, one goes through the five senses to focus on the moment and avoid thoughts of using alcohol, drugs, nicotine or any other negative talks.
Q1. What is a relapse?
Ans. A relapse means resumption of substance abuse after an attempt to stop its usage. For example – a person who returns to drug usage after months may experiences a relapse.
Q2. How to cope up with relapse?
Ans. One should seek support of family, friends and other people to cope up with a relapse. Surround yourself with the people with positive mindset who provide you right guidance to recover from a relapse.
Q3. Why do I keep relapsing to alcohol consumption?
Ans. You might keep falling back to relapsing to alcohol consumption because you might be surrounded by the people who consume alcohol regularly or you visit the same places where you used to consume alcohol.
Q4. What is relapse prevention?
Ans. A Relapse Prevention Therapy is a kind of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy that primarily treats addiction and substance abuse. It harnesses cognitive and behavioural coping strategies to prevent future relapses in the similar situations.
Q5. How do coping strategies help clients prevent relapse?
Ans. Coping strategies like talking to a counsellor, joining a leisure activity, performing yoga distract the person’s mind from substance consumption and help them sustain on the path of recovery from addiction.
Q6. What to do when someone relapses?
Ans. When someone relapses, take him/her to the counsellor and seek help. You can also ask him/her to meditate. You must also encourage him/her to attend social events.
Q7. Why addicts relapse?
Ans. Addicts who do not complete their substance de-addiction programs or easily get stressed with the life situations are prone to relapse.
Here at Anatta Humaversity, we manage relapse cases and helps a person go back to doing the things that he/she loves the most. We are staffed with educated and dedicated staff that designs the treatment model according to the needs of patients and families to make sure they experience positive outcomes every time.