Most ex-addicts will be the first to admit that they have relapsed at least once during their struggle for sobriety. Different drugs claim different rates of relapse, but generally about 40 to 60 percent of recovering addicts will succumb to substances at least once after leaving inpatient or outpatient treatment. Thus, medical professionals label addiction as a “chronic relapsing disease,” and they expect most addicts to seek addictive substances at some point during their sobriety.
Still, relapse doesn’t have to be inevitable. If you or someone you love is currently striving to stay sober, here are some typical triggers that may signal that a relapse is on the horizon.
Lying is one of the most common practices employed by addicts to sustain their addictions, and therefore, the trait of dishonesty is one of the first habits targeted by worthy rehabilitation facilities. Once sober, a recovering addict should be forthright and honest in every aspect of his or her life.
However, lying can be as addictive as substances, and many ex-addicts slip back into the habit with small, unnecessary lies. These lies can develop into excuses for absconding responsibilities, and eventually, dishonest ex-addicts will relapse — and continue lying to cover it up.
For some addicts, detox and inpatient treatment programs are incredibly easy, which leads them to believe that sobriety will be a walk in the park. Usually, these addicts will not prepare sufficiently for their future — they won’t locate a support group or inform others of their condition — because they believe themselves above the rules.
However, the real world has significantly more difficulties than treatment facilities, and failing to remain humble in the face of the addiction disease is asking for a relapse from stress.
Recovering from addiction is a lifelong process; 30 days at a rehab center may help an addict get clean and give him/her the tools to maintain sobriety, but understanding one’s addiction and overcoming it requires slow, measured steps that occur over the course of a lifetime.
Many ambitious addicts want to demonstrate success fast, and they don’t pay proper attention to themselves or the teachings. When impatient addicts fail to learn adequately from their programs, they set themselves up for failure and relapse.
Life is full of good and bad — but in the past, when addicts encountered the bad, they turned to their substances for relief. In sobriety, without their usual pacifiers, ex-addicts more easily become frustrated and angry when things aren’t going their way.
Whether this irritability develops into uncontrollable moodiness or argumentativeness, it may eventually trigger an addict to abuse substances if it is left unchecked.
5. Lack of Discipline
Treatment programs preach that ritual is the greatest enemy of addiction; if addicts develop positive habits, like prayer, exercise, and group meetings, they will have less time and energy to succumb to their addictions. Yet, after months or years in recovery, many addicts become complacent and neglect the responsibilities and rigor required to remain sober.
Addicts do well to remember that addiction is and always will be a threat, and strict routine is the best way to keep that threat at bay.
Long, deep bouts of despair are common among active and recovering addicts alike, but ex-addicts are much better equipped to combat depression than those who continue to abuse substances. However, if a recovering addict allows depression to become overwhelming, he/she is much more likely to return to substances’ sweet release.
Loved ones close to an ex-addict can help catch depression before it gets out of hand, but recovering addicts should be able to keep tabs on their own mental and physical health.
7. Other Old Habits
Most ex-addicts will maintain or build friendships with those never afflicted by the disease of addiction — which means addicts may at times be surrounded by people who drink alcohol.
Eventually, recovering addicts may even begin revisiting bars and clubs with friends. There is a popular saying among ex-addicts: “If you visit the barber shop often enough, you’re bound to get a haircut.”
Addicts who spend inordinate amounts of time around drinkers and in drinking locations are much more likely to resume their old ways.
8. New Medications
Surprises are common in the real world, and few people can control their health so acutely as to avoid all medications forever. Those recovering may experience any number of health complications, related to their history of substance abuse or otherwise, and thus they may encounter medications that inspire and invigorate abusive cravings.
Addicts should always let their physicians know their past addictive behavior, and they should avoid mood-altering chemicals that may replicate substance highs.