One of the biggest misconceptions about relapses is that they seemingly come out of nowhere. While it is possible to randomly decide to pick up a drink or start using drugs again, the truth is that relapses typically occur after a slow build-up of problems that eventually culminate into someone going back on their commitment to sobriety. Relapses tend to occur through several different stages that all come with warning signs that can let you know that your sobriety is at risk. Wondering about what are the warning signs of relapse for drug users gives you the ability to recognize when something is wrong so that you can work fast to begin correcting the issues that threaten your sobriety.
The first stage of an impending relapse is rooted in your emotional state. Usually, you’ll find yourself dealing with a stressful situation that might be escalating. In some cases, this stressor might be easily identifiable such as having a conflict at work. But, it can also be less obvious. Some people enter the emotional phase of relapse with just a general sense that they are losing interest in staying sober. You might have stopped attending as many meetings, or you might be avoiding talking about your problems. These are signs that you are emotionally checking out of sobriety, and these things leave you vulnerable for having a relapse.
The next stage of a relapse is mental. During this stage, you’re spending a lot of your time thinking about using drugs or alcohol again. You might be glamorizing the lifestyle and remembering how much fun you had while forgetting about all of the bad parts of having an addiction. You could even be planning how to physically have a relapse. For instance, you might make plans to stop by the bar while your partner thinks you are at work. Or, you could be pulling together money so that no one notices that you made a withdrawal from the bank to buy drugs. When you’re in the mental stage of a relapse, you have some options to stop things right now. You can try the following actions to prevent the relapse from going to the final phase.
•Use relaxation techniques to start decreasing your stress
•Choose to wait 30 minutes or more before picking up a drink
•Go straight to a meeting if one is happening near you
•Reach out to a trusted sober friend and tell them what you are thinking
•Ask a sober companion to stay with you until the danger has passed
Establish a Plan for Quickly Handling a Relapse
If you aren’t able to prevent a relapse in the previous stages, then you enter the final phase where you are actively using drugs or alcohol. At this point, however, your relapse might still not look like you might think. Instead of going on an immediate bender, many people just start using it gradually.
You might even think that you are in control at this point since you are using less than you did in the past. This is a false belief that will eventually lead to trouble. The moment that you pick up drugs or alcohol is a serious sign that you are about to fall back into your past behaviors. As someone with an addiction, it is more than likely impossible to just be an occasional user. This is why you’ll need to seek help immediately.
A relapse plan is something that you can put in place before you have a problem, and you can still set one up if you’ve started to go through the phases of having a lapse in your sobriety. A basic plan should include who you will call when you realize that you’ve lost control over your addiction. This could be a trusted family member who will help you to get enrolled in a rehab program. You can also reach out to a counselor to let them know that you need to seek additional treatment. Choosing to get help during a relapse makes it possible to address what led up to it so that it doesn’t happen again.
Do you suspect that you or a loved one is going through the phases of a relapse? We’re available 24/7 to help you take action. Reach out today at 833-610-1174.