In a perfect world, we could all stay on the path to sobriety. I wish more than anything it was that easy. Life is a roller-coaster ride, and the ups and downs are plenty. Every morning when I wake up, I have a choice of how I will live my life that day. Knowing this gives me the power to get through the tough ones. There will be hard days – that I can promise you.
How to Recognize a Relapse
Learning how to recognize a relapse will help you battle through them, get help, and avoid failure.
Increase in Stress
Stress is a trigger. It might be the reason you ever started doing drugs or drinking. Whenever you felt stress, you might have battled it with your addiction. Whenever I feel stress at all, I relieve it with something healthy. Yoga helps calm me down while giving me the confidence and strength to get through the day. The more I do it, the more it becomes a habit for relieving stress. It is what works for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Find that “something” to help calm you down.
I have talked about honesty while staying sober before and how it is critical to staying on the path of continued sobriety. Be very aware about denial over other triggers. You might deny thoughts and feelings and lie to yourself in the hopes that the emotions will go away: I’m not stressed at all. This is just life. Everyone feels this way. Yes, stress is a normal part of life, as are moments of feeling anxious, sad, lonely, and angry. Life is filled with emotions, but being truthful about how you feel is the only way to deal with them healthily. Staying sober is a struggle for life, and you must be honest about every thought and feeling that crosses your mind.
There are moments in my life when I have been depressed. Many times, the depression I have felt has been situational. It passes with time, but depression is a huge trigger to relapsing and should never be ignored. Depression is a very serious thing, and getting the professional help you need will help keep you from relapsing. Getting out of the house and staying active are other ways I deal with overcoming moments of sadness.
Return of Withdrawal Symptoms
Everything will be going great, and then all of a sudden, you are hit with withdrawal symptoms. It is confusing. How can you be feeling good for so long and then have these symptoms again? Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are often triggered by stress and can come in the form of anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression. Get help. You can get through them; you did it before, and you can do it again.
Jumping into a relationship after becoming sober is something most professionals warn against. Taking a year off to gain strength will help prepare you for hard times. Relationships, whether they are romantic or with family or friends, can play a huge role in staying sober. People aren’t perfect, and relationships can often be unpredictable. The ending of one can cause sadness, stress, anxiety, depression, and emotional pain. These feelings can all trigger a relapse. I have found that focusing on and nurturing healthy relationships while another one ends can help get through the period of loss.
Loss of Structure
Once you have dived back into life, you will notice the power that structure and time management bring in staying sober. The loss of a job can throw an entire life off balance. It will be tempting to give up and give in, but you are still in control. Dedicate your time to finding a new job and fill your days with hobbies spent outside the home. Other things can happen to crumble your structured life, but no matter what happens, continue your days the best you can with the same routine. Wake up and go to bed at the same time, eat the same foods, exercise more, and continue to take care of yourself.
Learning how to recognize a relapse is a very important skill to develop when dealing with an addict. It can save his or her life, and keep him or her from constantly inflicting pain on loved ones.
By Michelle Conway
Photo by: Yuliya Libkina (Flickr)