When it comes to alcohol and drug abuse, getting clean and staying clean are two very different things, as those who went through detox and rehab eventually find out.
In many cases, getting clean from substance abuse could be made more manageable through other medications that make the body reject them. In other instances, intense monitoring, counseling, and various forms of therapy are used.
There are instances, however, when all of the conditioning and therapy doesn’t stick for long, and the allure of the bad habit is simply just too strong to ignore. This is when the person realized that they’ve relapsed.
What is a Relapse?
A relapse happens when the former addict goes back to whatever it is that they were heavily dependent on. In some cases, it’s not as severe as they go right back to the same quantity and destructive binging that they were in before detox.
Some people fall into a relapse when they entertain the notion of trying it again to test their resolve, or when they do it “for old times’ sake”. It could be just a small quantity at first, and the user builds a false sense of security, thinking they have it under control, and before they know it, they are right back to using the same amount that got them in trouble before.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Relapse?
Much like when a person is going through the motions of addiction, someone going through or experiencing a relapse is sure to manifest certain signs or symptoms pointing to it.
In some cases, it could easily be identified, particularly by those who know the person well, such as family or close friends, as they were simply behaving the same way they did before when they were addicted the first time around.
In other cases, they could be exhibiting completely different behavior than before. The only commonality is that these changes are hard to hide, and someone is bound to notice sooner or later.
Avoidance and Isolation
Staying away from your support groups could be indicative of the urge to go back to bad habits. Members participating in support group sessions or therapy are always told to inform the therapist or session organizer if they are unable to attend the usual sessions.
Those giving in or are already experiencing a relapse could just simply drop out and never return. This is because they could not get themselves to admit that they got into addiction once more. They also tend to stay away from people in their support group, even those they have become quite close to.
This could also manifest with people they are close to outside of therapy. Those going into relapse tend to stay away from people they know would get them back into rehab.
Exhibiting Increased Stress and Anxiety
For the most part, those going into relapse know they are getting into trouble once more, but just feel like they can’t really do anything about it. This sense of helplessness is bound to come out in the form of increased stress and anxiety.
Instead of trying to explain why they are so high-strung, those going into relapse simply assume others won’t understand what happens when you relapse, so they just keep it to themselves as they slowly self-destruct once more.
Even worse, the stress and anxiety could even come out as aggression, as the person’s patience and social skills start deteriorating.
Denial and Depression
At some point, there is still some part of the person that does not accept the fact that they are in relapse already. Just like when they first start getting addicted, they engage in denial once more, not admitting even to themselves that they need help with relapse.
Alongside the denial could come bouts of depression, as they begin to see the negative changes happen once more in their life, even as they continue to avoid seeking help for it.
The sad thing about this is that the depression creeping in could further push them back into addiction, as they begin to lose hope in anything else other than the substance once more.
Disregard or Disinterest in Maintaining a Structure
They have been through the damage that addiction brought to their lives before, and for some, that fear is once again present as they nosedive into addiction again.
To many, however, the fear is all-consuming, and it further removes any inclination on their part to tell someone of the problem. This is where they see the restored structure in their lives begin to collapse once more.
There are some who are lucky enough that they have someone close to them who saw their silent cry for help. Others, however, are not so lucky.
Why Do People Relapse?
Most people who go into a relapse often blame others for it, which is typical behavior for those that engage in substance abuse. In many cases, those individuals suffering from addiction truly believe there is nothing they can do to change which leads to resentment for others that believe otherwise. However, during addiction treatment, individuals are taught how and why they should ask for help.
Fighting addiction alone is extremely difficult and unwise. Reaching out for help is the best way to fight impending relapse. Certain circumstances often lead to drug relapse. To avoid having to go through a relapse it’s best to find ways to stop these situations before they occur.
There is a reason why many treatment forms include the family and immediate friends of the person going through rehab. There are people who are simply in a very vulnerable condition when they go through rehab and are quite likely to tip over with the slightest nudge.
This is particularly true when they receive no support from the people they expected to get it from, such as their family and friends. To make matters worse, they could be exposed to an environment where the conditions are more likely to push them into a relapse instead of helping steer them away from it.
Improper Therapy or Treatment
The rehabilitation and therapy methods used today are tailored to the specific needs of the person receiving them. This is because each person responds differently to therapy. Until the right one is found that best addresses their need, a complete and lasting recovery is not likely to happen.
Improper treatment could also be the result of an incomplete or inaccurate assessment of the patient. If the information on the patient is wrong or insufficient, they could be made to undergo the wrong kind of therapy, and this could lead to an incomplete treatment program.
Lack of Commitment
Rehabilitation is a long, difficult process. Many people enter treatment for reasons other than the sole purpose of getting clean and trying to remain in recovery. Anyone that is participating in an addiction treatment program will need to focus and make their primary objective overcoming substance abuse. If they go into a program not really wanting to change, no program will change them regardless of a program’s merits.
They will, however, keep this to themselves, because they know it will only make the treatment last longer. Their main objective is to end the program as soon as possible.
This lack of commitment is not only counter-productive but a sure way of bringing the patient right back to square one, where they are using substances once more because they simply did not want to change their behavior.
What Kinds of Addiction Have the Highest Relapse Rates?
Continuing research done on data gathered from rehabilitation centers reveals that of all the addiction types that the center deals with, alcohol and opioid abuse tend to have the highest relapse rates.
This could be because the two substances are among the easiest to acquire, with alcohol being readily available in convenience stores. Other substances tend to have a lower relapse rate because they are more difficult to acquire, or are significantly more expensive.
Alcohol is particularly prominent because a massive percentage of alcohol figures in almost every event in a person’s life. Unless the person belongs to a religious denomination where alcohol is strictly prohibited, it could be anywhere they go.
Alcohol is typically present around birthdays, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and even in family and office events. Alcohol is so easy to gain access to that any suffering from alcohol addiction would have difficulty avoiding relapse.
How Can I Help Prevent a Relapse?
It is important to remember that a person going into relapse needs help, regardless of what they say. Anyone with any kind of substance abuse issue will always have difficulty determining what’s best for them. This means there is a need to be mindful that the help they need is the kind that denies them what they crave.
Be Mindful of a Person’s Former Dependence
While it is acceptable to expect a person to make a full recovery after rehabilitation, it is not right to assume that they are completely out of the woods.
Avoid exposing people in recovery to the very substances they are trying to stop taking. This is particularly true with alcohol. Do not offer a recovering person a drink, regardless of the situation or event as this could be what tips them over.
Help Plan Activities Away From Substances
Be a support system for your loved one by helping them find constructive ways to stay busy that steer clear of substances. This could be things like going rollerblading or going to the beach. Activities that offer physical fitness are great because they’re motivating and provide a purpose.
There are also opportunities to indulge in self-care like getting a massage or simply staying in and developing a new skincare routine. Look for ways to help support the individual’s new life structure in sobriety and the benefits of these new activities.
Also, help the individual be mindful of household items that may contain ingredients that can cause someone to get high. This could include cleaning chemicals, cough medicine, or other medications. If your friend or loved one has a weak moment you want to make sure they dont have access to something that could help them relapse.
Seek Help From a Professional
Sometimes the challenge is too difficult for one person to undertake alone. This is why it would be best to seek the help of a professional who is trained in these things. Gaining the support of a professional addiction treatment specialist will help you keep your loved one from experiencing a relapse.
If it’s too late and your loved one has already had a relapse, a professional can help determine what are the next steps. It’s important to remember that addiction is considered a chronically relapsing disease, therefore experiencing a relapse is common. Getting help afterward is what makes the difference.
The Professionals at Live Free Recovery Know How to Handle Relapse
Each relapse case is unique. We understand that addiction is a disease and not a choice. We here at Live Free Recovery have medical staff who are trained specifically to deal with that. We will evaluate each specific relapse to determine what are the best steps to take.
You’re in good hands at Live Free Recovery. We will help you or your loved one find recovery again.