Whether you’ve received professional drug or alcohol addiction treatment before, or have tried abstaining from drug and alcohol use on your own, relapsing can make you feel like a complete failure. It’s important to note, however, that for many people, relapse is a part of recovery.
Although you might feel disappointed in yourself, disheartened, and confused, this is a valuable opportunity to identify the need for strategic changes in your recovery plan and to find additional forms of recovery support. Relapsing isn’t the end of the world. At Mississippi Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center, we believe that relapsing gives you a renewed ability to assert control over your life.
If you’ve never received formal treatment for substance use disorder, relapse may simply mean that you have yet to address addiction at its source. When people choose to fight addiction by going “cold turkey” on their own, they often mistakenly assume that their problems will be over once they’ve successfully detoxed.
However, substance use disorder can develop for a very vast range of reasons. Until these reasons are identified and dealt with, people have a very high likelihood of returning to their old habits. For instance, you may have started using drugs or alcohol as the result of:
- Past traumatic experiences
- Low self-esteem
- A failure to process grief
- Emotional pain stemming from an untreated mental health issue
- Negative behavioral conditioning early-on in life
In each of these instances, drugs or alcohol are used as coping mechanisms. People might drink to feel more confident or courageous. They may use drugs to fit in, or they may abuse substances to mute overwhelming emotions. After having detoxed on your own, the problems that caused you to drink will still exist. You’ll have to find new and healthier ways of coping with and mitigating these problems in order to avoid relapse going forward.
Professional drug and alcohol treatment is a progressive, multi-pronged process that’s designed to address all of the many factors of substance use disorder. With professional treatment, you can develop the skills that you need for overcoming temptation, stress, cravings, and many other triggers that you’ll invariably face in the outside world.
What is a Relapse and How Can You Start Moving Beyond One?
What is a relapse? Is it returning to drug or alcohol use or merely thinking about it? Does using substances just one time constitute relapse or do you have to make a full-blown return to addiction? Addiction recovery isn’t a pass-or-fail process. You may be surprised to discover that there are stages of relapse.
Although you might think that drinking or using drugs is what constitutes relapse, most people relapse emotionally before taking any actions to use. Moreover, when people are in the emotional relapse stage, they aren’t actively thinking about using.
Instead, they find themselves dealing with low energy, fluctuating moods, increased feelings of loneliness and depression, and general dissatisfaction with everything and everyone around them. During this incredibly unpleasant time, feelings of denial can be easy to indulge in given that you probably won’t feel motivated to find or actually use any unhealthy substances.
Identifying and addressing emotional relapse is critical. An emotional relapse doesn’t have to lead to a return to drug or alcohol use. More importantly, this is the easiest stage for turning the course. Some of the most common signs of emotional relapse are:
- Voluntarily or involuntarily spending extended periods of time in isolation
- Missing post-treatment support groups or other outpatient meetings
- Losing contact with accountability partners
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Suppressing your emotions even when attending support meetings
- Placing more attention on the problems of others rather than focusing on yourself
The most common cause of emotional relapse is poor self-care. Experiencing emotional relapse means that you aren’t spending enough time and energy on your physical and mental wellness. When emotional relapse is suspected, it’s important to avoid isolation at all costs. Reach out to your support group, accountability partner, or another trusted party. At Mississippi Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment, we offer a variety of support services for those dealing with emotional relapse.
The next stage of relapse is mental relapse. This is the stage at which people start actively reminiscing about their past drug or alcohol use. Absent any healthful efforts to make themselves feel and function better, substance use starts seeming like an effective way to boost their outlook and moods. Of all the stages of relapse, this is easily one of the most dangerous. At this point, you may begin:
- Looking for opportunities to use
- Mentally minimizing the negative effects that drug or alcohol use once had on your life
- Bargaining with yourself or with others
- Thinking of ways to limit your substance use so that it can be acceptably maintained
When experiencing a mental relapse, seek outside support right away. A trusted family member or friend, a recovery partner, or a professional addiction center can help you move through this challenging phase of temptation without using, and without falling headlong into your old self-destructive habits and patterns.
While physical relapse is the stage of relapse that people are most familiar with, it is also the most difficult one to return from. For some people, having even a single drink or using a drug of choice just one time can result in ongoing, uncontrollable use. Although relapse is a part of recovery, it’s always best caught and corrected during the emotional and mental stages. No matter where relapse has taken you or how far you’ve reverted in your ways, there’s always hope.
With the right help, you can find out why you’re continuing to struggle with the desire to use, or why your motivation in recovery is flagging. It may be that you have yet to receive the in-depth treatment you need for substance use disorder. It might be that you merely require another element in your ongoing relapse prevention plan.
Regardless of what challenges you’re facing, our counselors are available to help 24 hours a day. Contact us now to get the services and support you need for keeping your recovery on track.