4 Warning Signs of Relapse and How to Prevent It - ARISE

Recovery from addiction is a long and difficult process. Once you have completed an addiction treatment program, it’s easy to feel like you have graduated from recovery. While completing rehab is a great accomplishment, it does not mean that your recovery journey is over.

Because addiction is a chronic and progressive disease, you must continue to practice your recovery maintenance techniques to remain strong in your sobriety. Once you stop attending meetings, talking to your sponsor, and healthily dealing with your emotions, you are at risk of experiencing a relapse. While the thought of relapsing after so much hard work can be devastating, it is important to remember that relapse is a part of many people’s stories.

While relapse is incredibly common among people in early recovery, there are ways to prevent it. Being aware of the 4 warning signs of relapse can allow you to recognize a relapse before it occurs, give you the time you need to make adjustments, and secure your sobriety.

The 4 Most Common Warning Signs of Relapse

Addiction is a chronic disease, which means that relapse is a common occurrence. While relapse is extremely common, there are ways to prevent it from happening. The first step in preventing this is being aware of the signs of addiction relapse.

The 4 most common warning signs of relapse include:

1. Neglecting Recovery Practices

When you are in an addiction rehab center, you learn a myriad of tools and practices you can use to maintain your sobriety. This may include continued attendance of therapy, regular attendance of support groups, examples of positive coping mechanisms to combat triggers, and more. Whatever you have been doing to maintain your recovery, you must continue to do so for the rest of your life.

Once you stop attending meetings, calling your sponsor, or going to therapy, you are at risk of experiencing a relapse. Doing these things keeps you grounded, accountable, and ready to overcome the stressors and triggers of daily life after rehab. When you stop, you begin to face life challenges on your own and without any support, making you more susceptible to experiencing a relapse.

2. Social Isolation

Nurturing healthy connections with others who understand what you are going through is one of the most important aspects of recovery. With that being said, one of the biggest warning signs of addiction relapse is social isolation. Spending too much time alone can cause you to be inside of your head, putting you at risk of negative thoughts, feelings, and eventually behaviors.

If you have stopped hanging out with your friends, and talking to your sponsor, and find that you are spending most of your free time alone, you may be at risk of relapse.

3. Increased Mental Health Problems

During drug and alcohol rehab, you learned how to deal with your emotions positively. Instead of masking them with substances, you began to use positive coping mechanisms and emotional self-regulation to address uncomfortable or painful emotions. Once you stop addressing your emotions and begin facing increased mental health problems, you are at risk of experiencing a relapse.

Addiction is often driven by emotions. When your addiction was developing, you most likely were abusing drugs or alcohol to numb painful emotions and memories. If you stop managing your emotions in recovery, you may begin to crave the release that your addiction used to provide you.

4. Romanticizing Past Substance Abuse

When you feel bored or unsatisfied with your life, you may begin to look back at your addiction. You may feel like in comparison, your life is boring and mundane now. When you were addicted to substances, you lived a fast-paced and uncertain lifestyle where you never knew what was going to happen next.

Remembering the exciting parts of addiction may cause you to begin romanticizing your past substance abuse, which is a huge trigger for relapse. Instead of remembering how your addiction caused you to end up in treatment, you are thinking about the attractive parts of your substance abuse. This is one of the most dangerous warning signs of relapse, as you are forgetting the detrimental aspects of your addiction and only remembering the parts you enjoyed.

How to Prevent Addiction Relapse

Preventing drug and alcohol relapse is the ultimate goal of recovery. While experiencing a relapse is not a failure, we are always striving to avoid it from happening. But what is the best way to prevent relapse from occurring?

The first and most important thing is to always be aware of your personal triggers. What usually causes you to crave alcohol or drugs? Is it stress, boredom, peer pressure, or painful memories? Being aware of your triggers allows you to plan for them to happen, ensuring that you are prepared to cope with your triggers as they arise.

Next, you should always stay active in your recovery network. For example, if you attend Alcoholics Anonymous you should continue to do so, making sure to participate in discussions and social interactions. Being surrounded by others who are active in their recovery will lessen your risk of experiencing a relapse.

Lastly, taking care of yourself physically and mentally is extremely important to staying sober. If you are not caring for physical or mental health conditions, drugs and alcohol may seem like a welcome escape from your symptoms. Instead, ensure that you are staying healthy by attending doctor’s visits, continuing to show up to therapy, and practicing basic self-care.

Relapse Prevention Therapy and Treatment

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, now is the time to seek help. Leaving your addiction untreated can cause an array of consequences, such as social isolation, increased mental health issues, the development of physical health conditions, and even life-threatening experiences like overdoses. Attending a professional drug and alcohol rehab program can ensure that you do not experience the long-term consequences of addiction.

The staff at Arise Treatment Center is dedicated to providing you with individually-tailored services that reduce your risk of relapse and increase your ability to navigate life in sobriety. One of the most valuable therapies we use to accomplish this important goal is known as relapse prevention therapy.

Through comprehensive relapse prevention therapy, our clients learn how to identify the warning signs of relapse, how to cope with triggers, and how to embrace life in sobriety. Contact Arise Treatment Center today to learn more about our relapse prevention-focused addiction treatment program.


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