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Among people who have received treatment for their substance use disorder many starts showing signs of relapse, 40% to 60% relapse within their first year of sobriety. This can be deeply disheartening. Many who have already undergone the painful process of withdrawing from their substance of choice never pursue recovery again after relapsing. 

Others die of drug overdoses when they relapse, as a result of losing their tolerance during their time clean. While many people do successfully get sober even after relapsing multiple times, it is best to avoid it altogether. 

It is important to understand that relapse does not simply suddenly occur in a vacuum. The warning signs of relapse are usually obvious for many weeks or even months before the event occurs.

Top 4 Warning Signs Of Relapse

1. Romanticizing Substance Abuse

When people get sober, it is sometimes easy for them to forget the horrors of addiction that led to them trying to get sober in the first place. Once they are freed from addiction’s chains, it is tempting to look back and remember the good times fondly. 

It is true that many people had good times while drunk or high on their substance of choice — they wouldn’t have begun using substances if they didn’t enjoy them. While there is nothing wrong with acknowledging this, doing so without also recognizing the harm that addiction brought along with it can be dangerous. 

There is also nothing inherently wrong with reconnecting with old friends from the drug addiction days, as long as these relationships do not revolve around substance abuse or retelling old stories from the “glory days.” 

One of the benefits of staying involved in an aftercare addiction program or 12-step group is that individuals are continually reminded of the devastation that addiction causes. By continually helping those new to sobriety, one protects themself against the romantic notions of drug use.

2. Negative Emotional States

Increased levels of stress can cause people to turn to drugs and alcohol for the relief that they offer. People suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions are also more likely to return to substance abuse as a form of self-medication. 

While many treatment centers work with dual diagnosis individuals to ensure they make a proper recovery from both conditions, many people suffer from undiagnosed mental illness that can compromise their sobriety no matter how strong their addiction treatment program is. These individuals can benefit from outpatient therapy, psychiatric care, and medications. 

Individuals who are simply stressed or experiencing difficult circumstances can benefit from these services too, as well as other resources, including support groups and 12-step programs.

3. Disconnection from Friends and Family Members

One of the surest signs of an impending relapse is when an individual stops associating as much with their close friends and family members. Friends and family are generally well aware that a person is sober and usually try to be as supportive as possible. 

Someone who is ruminating on the possibility of relapse might be tempted to avoid the company of intimate acquaintances who will likely be skeptical if not horrified at the idea. It is also common for people to isolate from close friends and family when they are distressed or experiencing mental health problems, which in and of themselves can trigger a relapse.

Research has actually backed up the notion that an individual’s social support group plays a major role in preventing relapse. Ultimately, loneliness and isolation themselves can create circumstances for a relapse; in the recovery community addiction is often referred to as a “disease of isolation.”

4. Distancing Oneself from Support Groups

Sometimes distancing oneself from friends and family isn’t a sign of relapse, especially when an individual is trying to avoid old drinking friends and build a new sober social network. To do so, however, it is essential that an individual work closely with support groups or 12-step programs to develop a sober community. 

In early sobriety, especially in a structured program like an inpatient treatment center, it is often far easier to be involved. After graduating, however, it is necessary to continue treatment and build these connections to others oneself. 

An individual who stops going to 12 step meetings or associating with their sober peers is setting themselves up for a relapse. It is important to remember that addiction, like other chronic illnesses, can never be fully “cured,” but only continually treated.

Relapse Prevention

Many people arrive at Design for Recovery eager to keep their newfound sobriety and prevent relapse. Studies have shown that individuals who remain in addiction recovery programs longer have a lower rate of relapse. Even after finishing a formal treatment program, many people continue to experience residual withdrawal symptoms, a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome that can increase the likelihood of relapse. 

At Design for Recovery, young men work to build a foundation for recovery, a strong sober social support network, and a prosperous new life in sobriety. If you feel that your sobriety is a bit shaky and you’re ready to make a change, contact Design for Recovery today.

How to Deal With a Heroin Addict?

People who show signs of heroin addiction are often reluctant to solve their problems. It is even more severe when the addict is a teenager. They often feel like their addiction is not a problem, and they can control it whenever they want.

However, this type of attitude is not only damaging to their current physical health but also to their future mental and physical condition. On the other hand, some people may have tried to quit several times but relapsed whenever they go through a tough situation.

In both situations, their loved ones have to stage an intervention to persuade them to get a sober living home. This step can save the life of your child. Although the journey to recovery is filled with discomfort and hardships, the pain is worth saving the life of your kid.

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Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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