Relapse and Addiction

Relapse, when struggling with an addiction, is quite common. It’s estimated that 40-60% of people struggling with substance use disorders relapse at some point in their recovery process.

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process. Individuals need to learn how to live a sober life, even with temptation around them. While it might become easier over time to live a sober life, there are triggers that can make a person relapse. Often, people relapse when they have experienced emotional, mental or physical tolls in their life and need to find a way to cope.

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What Is a Relapse?

Relapse is when a person who is battling addiction stops being sober and starts using the substance again. Relapses can be as short as a few days or as long as a period of years. A relapse is perfectly normal to experience in the addiction recovery process.

Addiction is a brain disorder and particularly difficult to overcome. However, recovering addicts can learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of relapse and take preventive steps to ensure they don’t repeat their past mistakes. Asking for help when signs of relapse occur is essential. Part of addiction recovery is learning to trust your support system.

Signs and Symptoms of Relapse

One of the most recognizable warning signs of relapse is when the addicted individual romanticizes drug use. This is a form of mental relapse where the period of substance abuse is looked at in a positive light.

Other warning signs include falling into a deep depression, sweeping behaviour changes and oversleeping. This is typically combined with the individual cutting social ties, being reclusive and avoiding events.

Lastly, a person who is on the brink of relapse is likely to begin talking about the recovery process in a negative light. They begin to doubt the effectiveness of recovery.

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What Causes Recovering Addicts to Relapse?

Relapse has three components to it: emotional, mental and physical. A relapse can occur because a person is under emotional stress, is mentally struggling with their addiction and can no longer resist the physical urge to take the substance.

There are certain triggers for relapse, and the most common is depression. Depression causes feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. These feelings make substances seem like an appealing option.

Exhaustion is another likely trigger for relapse. Lack of sleep and feelings of being burned out make individuals look for comfort. For someone who previously sought comfort through substances, it can be tempting to go back.

Lastly, isolation is an enormous factor for relapse. Addiction recovery is all about a support system. People struggling with addiction need to know that they have people who care for them and want to see them succeed. When a recovering addict feels isolated, they may not share their feelings and may slip into reminiscing about their substance abuse as a positive time in their lives.

Emotional and mental issues are hard to cope with for any person. For the recovering addict, it’s especially difficult to not turn back to their addiction in times of despair.

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