Understanding Addiction Triggers of Relapse
Drug and alcohol addictions are complicated conditions. It is also something that never really leaves you – you can stay sober for years before you relapse.
The sad truth is that most people will relapse at some point during their addiction recovery. What’s important is understanding why this has happened and doing your best to avoid it.
So, to begin with, there are a few common reasons why someone may relapse and return to drugs or alcohol.
It can involve:
- New trauma
- New disability
- Change in living conditions
- Change in relationship
- Having kids
It can even be as simple as boredom. Substance abuse produces dopamine, which makes you feel joy and pleasure. When you are bored, your brain craves dopamine which makes it possible for you to replace it.
Social situations can also very easily lead to a relapse. The unfortunate truth is that we have a pretty big drinking culture in the UK. It’s not uncommon for it to be seen as rude to not join in with a few drinks with friends on special occasions.
Some people can even feel they are risking their jobs if they don’t drink with their coworkers and boss during company events. This social pressure can easily become a full-blown relapse, as it is never just one drink when you have an alcohol or drug addiction.
It is never just one bad night of binge drinking. It’s never just one last go before you put it behind you forever.
It is an ongoing struggle that you need to avoid and hold firm against. Otherwise, you are putting yourself at serious risk of undoing all your progress towards long-term recovery.
There are ways you can avoid relapsing and also ways to support a loved one who has relapsed. You just need to take a deep breath and be willing to learn.
Building a Support System
Addiction can be isolating. That is why one of the best ways to ensure you avoid a relapse is to surround yourself with people who know your struggles.
People who won’t encourage you to abuse substances and will actively keep you away from situations that will.
A strong support system can come from friends or family members. But one of the best ways to build one is to engage in your local community.
Go to support group meetings and surround yourself with people who know all the tricks and lies so you can be held accountable. Let people who know how to help you in your life. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous often match you with a sponsor. Your sponsor is someone you can call day or night if you worry you’ll relapse.
Having someone there for you like that to talk you down from your worst moments can often be the difference between achieving long-term recovery and not.
Develop Coping Mechanisms to Avoid Relapse
A lot of the work to avoid a relapse needs to be done by you.
First, the best thing you can do is generally upkeep your mental health. This can involve regular therapy sessions and incorporating mentally healthy behaviours into your everyday life. Doing this can help you to avoid the mental triggers for relapse, such as anxiety or depression. You can do things such as:
- Go for walks
- Take up an artistic hobby
- Eat healthily
- Listen to music
- Take any prescribed medication
- Visit friends
- Go to support meetings
- Clean your home
It may sound silly, but basic self-care can often do wonders for your mental health. You can also use it for specific therapeutic techniques such as:
- Mentally centring yourself through listing your surroundings
- Calling a friend or your sponsor to talk
- Meditating to avoid your cravings
- Avoiding the triggers for your cravings
- Breathing exercises
Not every coping mechanism will work for everyone. It is all about understanding your mental health to find something that works for you. Often you can learn about this in therapy as you will be given a plan to help you improve your mental health and avoid a relapse.
Follow a Relapse Prevention Plan
A relapse prevention plan is designed specifically for you and your needs. It is often provided as part of the aftercare services from a drug and alcohol rehab centre.
A relapse prevention plan will give you everything you need. From the triggers for your cravings that you need to avoid. To centre yourself and avoid giving in to these cravings after you have been triggered. And general tools you can use in your life to aid in your recovery.
It will also include warning signs for you to look out for so you are aware if you need help. These signs include:
- Isolating yourself
- Experiencing depression, anxiety, mood swings, paranoia and aggression
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of focus
The earlier you catch a potential relapse, the easier it is for you to deal with it. You can seek help or use the tools you learned to handle it yourself.
Maintain Recovery Motivation and Focus
It is important to remember that addiction recovery is a lifestyle change. It is a long and difficult process, so you can’t expect progress overnight. What you need to do is to set realistic goals for yourself so that you can celebrate your milestones. For example, be proud of every month, and year you have been sober, no matter how long.
Prioritise your health and happiness over conventional ways of doing things. Did you need to take a break from school to focus on your recovery, but now you want to go back? That is great.
Manageable goals give you something to work towards and look forward to. It shows just how much progress you have made, and you can be proud of yourself.
Remember that addiction is difficult, and there is no shame in needing a bit of extra help. You can always take some time back in a drug and alcohol rehab centre if you are really struggling to avoid a relapse.
If you need any more information, why not give us at Rehab Clinics Group a call at 0800 470 0382.
We can help you stay on the right track to long-term recovery.