It may have taken you a long time to admit that addiction was ruining your life. You might have been in denial for a number of years before finally accepting that you needed help. If you have been through a programme of rehabilitation and are now in recovery, you are no doubt worried about the risk of relapse.
While relapse is common among recovering addicts, it is in no way inevitable. Some people will relapse more than once before finally learning how to live a sober life. However, some individuals manage to get through rehab and learn to live a long sober life without ever having a slip-up.
There is no doubt that certain things are more likely to trigger a relapse than others, and so it is important to learn what your triggers are so that you can avoid them. Your triggers may be different to another persons, but there are a number of common triggers that can make a recovering addict more susceptible to relapse. Below are a few examples:
- Hunger Hunger can make you vulnerable to slip-ups, so it is very important that you are eating regularly. To ward off hunger and keep your blood sugars at a stable level, you should eat three meals a day, with healthy snacks in between.
- Loneliness Being lonely is a huge problem for recovering addicts. Once you have finished rehab, you will be back at home and may find that you have a lot of time on your hands now that you are no longer drinking or taking drugs. If you find that you are lonely, you should think about going to more meetings. You are less likely to relapse if you have others to talk to. If you are feeling lonely and there are no meetings on, then call your sponsor or a friend to chat.
- Anger Anger is a dangerous emotion that can act like mood-altering drugs and can cause people to act in a way that they would not typically act. If anger is an issue in your life, you need to deal with this. Speak to your counsellor about your feelings of anger and he or she will help you to deal with this emotion appropriately.
- Fatigue You may feel enthusiastic and energetic now that you are in recovery, and you might be keen to catch up on all the things you missed out on while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Nonetheless, it is important not to take on too much, especially in the early stages of recovery. Getting too tired may make you vulnerable, so exercise in moderation.
- Unrealistic Expectations This is a common problem among recovering addicts. Many expect their lives to change immediately and then feel disappointed and let down when this does not happen. These feelings of resentment and disappointment can lead to a relapse if the recovering addict begins to wonder why he or she bothered getting sober in the first place. You need to remember that this is a long journey that will take time. You did not become an addict overnight, and you will not get better overnight either.
- Old Friendships Once you feel comfortable with your sobriety, you may not see the need to continue avoiding old drinking or drug-taking friends. You may assume that you are strong enough to start hanging out with these individuals again, and maybe you are but then again, maybe you are not. Before you know it, you could find yourself glamorising the old days when you drank or took drugs together, and you may be overcome by intense cravings. Getting in touch with old friends could leave you in danger of a relapse.