Warning Signs that Indicate Relapse May Be Imminent
No one is really sure what the relapse rate for addicts and alcoholics actually is. Some studies have claimed it is as high as 80%, and few experts in the addiction field would dispute that the correct number is somewhere north of 50%. Thankfully relapses are frequently short-lived, and the addict or alcoholic who falls off the wagon is able to reclaim their sobriety rather quickly without causing undue damage to the recovery process.
Others are not so fortunate, however. For these substance abusers, relapse means a complete collapse of all the hard work and effort that went in to getting clean and sober. Once these addicts start using again, it can be months or even years before they are able to crawl back out from the dungeon of chemical enslavement – if they make it out at all. While those who have relapsed should never give up hope, relapse is still something that addicts or alcoholics should try to avoid at all costs.
The timing of relapses can be unpredictable, to both substance abusers and to those who are close to them. If you are an addict, there are a number of signs that can indicate that relapse may be imminent. Learning to recognize these indicators, and reacting to them with alacrity and urgency, can reduce, if not eliminate the chances of relapse occurring in many instances. For this reason it is vitally important that while in recovery, you should know exactly what kind of warning signs you need to be on the lookout for.
Five Possible Signs of Relapse
If you are a recovering substance abuser, the presence of these troublesome symptoms or behavior patterns could very well indicate that you are soon headed for a fall:
Depression: Maintaining a positive mindset, as well as a high level of motivation, are important factors in any successful recovery from addiction. Of course, chemical imbalances and mood swings are inevitable during drug detoxification, but persistent feelings of hopelessness, despair, and emptiness can easily sabotage your attempts at recovery.
Obsessive-compulsiveness: If you find yourself engaging in repetitive behaviors of any type, even if they seem relatively benign or are not related to your addiction in any way, this is the sign of a mind/body system out of balance. If you cannot stop your obsessive-compulsive habits, even with determined effort, you may be in imminent danger of relapse.
Sleep disturbances: Are you suffering from insomnia? Do you find yourself waking up often during the night? Are you so tired during the day that you cannot resist the urge to take naps? Sleeping problems often precede relapse, as they tend to be associated with just the kind of mental turmoil and daily stress that can drive a person back to substance abuse.
Feeling overwhelmed: For some recovering addicts, all of the little problems of life, piled on top of the need to resist the lure of drugs or alcohol, can seem like just too much to handle all at once. The sign that things may be spiraling out of control is if even the smallest annoyances or responsibilities seem to be throwing you for a loop.
Stronger than normal cravings: Everyone can have bad moments, and the intensity of cravings that addicts experience will always vary somewhat. But if things get to the point that the cravings for drugs or alcohol are completely taking over your mental life, preventing you from concentrating on anything else, this is as big a sign of that relapse is imminent that you could ever hope to find.
What Needs to Be Done
If you are on the cusp of relapse, you need help, and you need it today. Therapists, peer support groups, family members, and close friends all need to be involved, as you struggle against temptation. You need extensive positive feedback and reassurance to help you get past your time of crisis. If you fear that you are likely to relapse, do not go this alone. Ask for help!
A recovering addict or alcoholic must not be allowed to feel as if he or she has already failed simply because failure may be imminent. To be on the verge of relapse is a common experience, but if addicts have the type of enthusiastic and caring support they need there is no reason they cannot be brought back from the brink of disaster.