Although it might appear to your family and friends and even to you that a relapse came on suddenly, the truth is there are often many signs of relapse even before it happens.
Often, there are circumstances in one’s life that become more stressful and the inner responses become indicative of a growing need to soothe oneself, and frequently drugs and alcohol are a way to do just that.
When there are growing distressing situations in life, people often turn to drinking or drug use.
But before this happens, there are frequently indications that might reveal a relapse is forthcoming.
Signs of a Relapse
- Many negative feelings and thoughts
- Canceling treatment or therapy sessions
- Feelings of not caring about oneself
- Lying to others and oneself
- Taking days off of work
- Beginning to spend time with old drinking or drug using friends
- No longer trying to stay sober
The Following Predisposing Factors Can Also Place You at Risk for Relapse
- Learning disabilities
- Concurring mental illness
- High stress
- Inadequate coping skills
- Lack of support at home or work
- Dysfunctional family
- Lack of impulse control
The benefit of knowing about the factors that can contribute to relapse is that you can call for help when life becomes challenging. When you see one or more of these factors beginning to appear in your life, you can potentially stop a relapse before it starts by calling for help.
In fact, help from others is crucial when triggers, cravings, and the signs of relapse begin to set in. Although, it’s difficult to ask for help at times, you might consider the grave circumstances that could take place if you don’t ask for help.
When You Should Ask For Help
Certainly, there are some factors that come into play when you are in need of asking for help. You may not want to admit the situation you’re in. You may not want to reveal the fact that you’re in trouble. Also, you may not want to have to go through the discomfort of explaining your situation to someone who may not know it.
However, the advantage of picking up on signs before a relapse occurs is that you have more freedom regarding the person you talk to. If you know that you’re having trouble, you might call for help from someone who knows you well. It might be someone who loves and cares for you.
There’s a good chance that your friend or family member will be happy about the fact that you’ve invited help before something happens.
Also, you should know that there is a relationship between the intensity of circumstances and the probability you’re going to ask for help. Lisa Najavits, author of Seeking Safety: A Manual for PTSD and Substance Abuse, points out that as danger increases so does acting out rather than talking. In other words, if the circumstances are becoming more and more severe, there is more of chance that you’ll act out with relapse versus talk out your feelings in order to prevent one.
This is another reason why recognizing signs very early on can be a great advantage to preventing relapse.
For instance, let’s say you’ve become angry at a friend. He or she betrayed you in some way. You might allow your feelings to fester, imagining how you’re going to retaliate, and finding retribution in yourself through increased feelings of anger and revenge.
Talking About Your Problems Can Help Fight a Relapse
As the anger continues to escalate, there’s a higher chance that you’ll act out those feelings of anger and possibly even end up drinking or using drugs. For many people, anger and drug use/drinking are closely related, particularly for men.
Certainly, talking to someone about your experience first can help reduce the level of anger, avoid any physical fighting, and possibly prevent a relapse.
If you recognize any of the above signs of relapse, be sure to contact someone you trust or a mental health professional.
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