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An Oncoming Relapse? Here’s What You Should Watch For

The National Institute on Drug Abuse relates drug addiction relapse to the relapse of patients with chronic illnesses like hypertension or asthma. Statistics from 2000 show that 40-60% of people treated for substance abuse have relapsed. Patients treated for hypertension or asthma relapse 50-70% of the time. These rates are alarmingly similar to substance abuse.

If you or a loved one are ready to seek treatment for addiction or are fighting to maintain sobriety, there are a few things to  know upfront about relapse:

  • It’s normal and healthy to worry that you might relapse. It takes time to develop self-confidence and sense of security in your new sober lifestyle.
  • Relapse doesn’t mean you failed. It simply means you’ve taken a step back on the road to recovery and need to act quickly to correct your path.
  • While relapse isn’t uncommon, it isn’t an experience you have to endure. Understanding the signs of an oncoming relapse and acting quickly could keep you from taking that step backward on your journey to sobriety.

At Laguna View Detox we want to help you understand exactly what relapse is and why it occurs for so many people fighting for sobriety. When you’re aware of the risk and the red flags you have a stronger chance of overcoming your obstacles before you sink into relapse. If you or someone you love does relapse, it’s important to contact the professionals at Laguna View Detox to seek help as quickly as possible.

What Is Relapse?

Relapse occurs when someone in any stage of recovery from substance abuse uses a substance that they have abused in the past. It only takes one use to qualify as a relapse and it doesn’t matter how much you consume or how it’s administered. If you’re in recovery from alcohol and consume just a few sips of an alcoholic beverage, you have relapsed.

What about thinking about using a substance? While that may lead to guilty feelings and other emotions, this isn’t considered relapse unless you follow through with the act of using a substance. Many recovering addicts do think about the substances they previously abused. They can even dream about it. Pulling yourself back from those thoughts and reminding yourself why you want to continue with sobriety is often a powerful moment that can help you maintain your clean healthy lifestyle.

The Stages of Relapse

A relapse may seem to occur out of the blue but it’s usually the final stage of a process that starts days or even weeks prior to the use of a substance. Use this list to understand each stage of relapse so you can keep an eye on yourself or your loved ones to catch the cycle before it spins out of control:

  • Emotional Relapse – You experience emotional responses to daily life or inner turmoil which set the stage for an eventual relapse. Using the abused substance is often a reaction to these emotions because you haven’t developed the coping skills needed to overcome obstacles and handle strong emotions without an escape. Continuing to seek help through 12-step meetings and recovery programs in addition to working a sobriety plan daily can give you the strength and skills needed to handle these emotions and stop the relapse cycle right here.
  • Mental Relapse – You’re starting to fight your urges to use. You’re not serious about seeking out the substance, but the thought is starting to cross your mind more and more often. You’re fighting these thoughts but you can’t deny that you think about relapsing.
  • Physical Relapse – This is when you start taking action to relapse. You may find yourself driving to a liquor store in the middle of the afternoon or driving through a neighborhood where you used to buy drugs in the past. You’ve graduated from thoughts of using to actively placing yourself in situations where using is likely or guaranteed. 

Early Signs of an Oncoming Relapse

Some signs of relapse that you may notice in yourself or a loved one include:

  • Poor eating habits
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Mood swings
  • Withdrawal from loved ones or activities
  • Lying
  • Gravitating back to friends and acquaintances from the old lifestyle
  • Glamorizing or bragging about old addictive behaviors
  • Not following a recovery treatment plan

Many of the early signs of a potential relapse are internal so friends and loved ones may not catch them until the mental, physical stages, or relapse begins. 

You may notice that you’re no longer interested in exercising, going to meetings, or taking healthy steps toward daily recovery. You start to realize that you’re thinking about your old lifestyle and friends more often. Those thoughts are signals that you need help to stop the cycle of relapse.

Laguna View Detox Can Help Before or After Relapse

Our Southern California detox and rehab center offers comprehensive addiction therapies that are customized to the individual. If you or someone you love is struggling with a potential relapse contact us to discuss your options. We want to help you develop the skills and the strength that is needed to successfully walk the path of sobriety for life.