When someone is a recovering drug or alcohol abuse, they are one for life. Once the addiction has taken place, it is never fully gone. Even after treatment is complete, life is still full of temptation. That is why relapse is so common. So many people go through treatment, only to end up re-addicted to their vices of choice. Life is not easy for a recovering abuser, but it does get easier with time. Here are the top five reasons people relapse, along with tips on how to avoid succumbing to each cause.
1. They Are Around the Wrong People
One of the main reasons for relapse, according to About.com, is the people that abusers associate with once they are out of recovery. This can affect users in one of two ways. The first way is that they are hanging out with the people they used to hang out with while partaking in their drug of choice. For example, if a recovering alcoholic used to go to the bar with friends, simply hanging out with these friends could instigate a sudden urge to drink, regardless if any of them are actually drinking. Just seeing the people they used to drink with can be bad news. Similarly, frequenting locations that used to be the location for taking the drug can be just as dangerous.
The other way that people matter is if the people around the abuser are partaking in the drug the abuser is recovering from. This can be friends, family, or even the stranger at the next booth over at a restaurant. When an abuser sees their drug of choice being devoured, it makes them want to consume it as well. While avoiding all people that are either associated with the drug or consuming the drug is almost impossible, it should be attempted, at least at the beginning. As time goes on, it will be easier to associate with these people. However, if the people are close family, the abuser may still want to see them. In this case, the family should commit to not partaking in the drug when they are around the abuser. This is a small sacrifice for the family to make to help the abuser avoid relapse.
2. They Get Stressed Out
For most abusers, stress is what started their addiction in the first place. Their drug was their coping mechanism. When times got tough, they turned to their drug of choice to relax and forget about life’s worries. For this reason, stress is often the number one thing that causes relapse. While it is impossible to avoid stress completely, there are some ways an abuser can prevent relapse when stressful situations occur.
The best option is for the abuser to avoid situations that are known to cause a lot of stress. For example, it is probably not a good idea to move shortly after leaving treatment. Recovering abusers may also want to take it easy at work for a little while, and inform their bosses that they need to pass on any big projects.
Recovering abusers also need to come up with a new way to cope with stress. There are many options here; the abuser just needs to find one they enjoy. For some people, exercising provides a good amount of stress relief. For others, a massage can do the trick. Investing some time to learn some meditation techniques may also prove useful.
3. They Are Around the Cause of the Addiction
Even if everyone the recovering abuser knows commits to not partaking in the drug around the abuser, chances are there will still be situations where the abusers are face to face with their drug of choice. Just the simple sight or smell of the substance is enough to trigger some recovering abusers.
Unfortunately, some addictions are easier to avoid than others. Whatever the addiction is to, the abuser needs to do everything they can to avoid it when they leave treatment. If the addiction is to alcohol, it is best to only go to restaurants that do not serve alcohol so that the abuser is not tempted. The abuser should also try to avoid that section in the grocery store. Abusers should also come up with a substitute activity they can do if faced with their addiction, such as chewing gum. It may also help if abusers can take a friend with them when they know they will be facing their addiction. They need to find a friend that will not let them waver, and will be honest and upfront with them should they need to be.
4. They Experience Unpleasant Emotions
When recovering abusers are in a happy mood, it is a lot easier to resist temptation. However, no one is happy all of the time. In fact, loneliness is oftentimes a contributor in a relapse. The abuser is so worried about coming face to face with their addiction (which is completely warranted) that they spend their days alone. PsychCentral adds that many recovering abusers may also suffer from an undiagnosed mental health condition, such as depression. If these conditions are not diagnosed and treated properly, the abuser may have a very hard time recovering.
Another major emotion that contributes to relapse is heartbreak. That is why people leaving treatment are strongly encouraged not to get into a relationship right out of treatment. If something goes wrong in the relationship, the abuser is very likely to resort back to their old ways. Anger, frustration, and resentment are some more common emotions that can lead users to relapse.
To prevent emotions being the cause of relapse, abusers first need to visit a psychologist to make sure there is not a deeper issue involved. Even just having someone unbiased to talk to can be very beneficial in dealing with emotions without the use of drugs. If abusers are uncomfortable visiting a psychologist, they should ask for the help of a close family member or friend. It is imperative that the recovering abuser has someone to talk to. If loneliness is a concern, the abuser should look for activities they can participate in where their drug is not used. Many communities offer fun, interactive events that will be free of drugs or alcohol.
5. It is a Special Occasion
Special occasions are always a difficult time for recovering abusers. When a special event occurs, people feel entitled to treat themselves. Oftentimes, this “treat” is a common drug or alcohol. Abusers will convince themselves that they deserve to have a good time and they will only have one drink. This is a slippery, slippery slope that needs to be avoided at all costs.
Since abusers cannot live in solitude for the rest of their lives, it is imperative that they learn good coping skills for when they are faced with the object of their addiction. At a good treatment center, these skills will be taught so the abuser has a higher chance of success. Avoiding relapse is all about strong will, fortitude, and a commitment to use the coping skills learned instead of resorting back to the drug of choice. If these things can be done, success can be had.