Have you relapsed? You’re not the only one.

relapsedA common theme we see is the tendency to, after a relapse, go on a binge for the next couple of days. Even though we’ve relapsed, it doesn’t mean that all our effort during the past days or weeks were in vain. Our brain is very plastic and has a remarkable ability to quickly change itself. Even if we haven’t gone the full 90 days, we have still given our brain a lot of time to rewire itself. One relapse does not completely reverse that. 

People all over the world are now fighting with these, but most of them can’t defense. The sad truth is that many people who try to recover from addiction to alcohol or drugs do not stay in recovery. Although relapse may be common, rarely does it occur without warning. There are usually significant behaviors that can signal that the recovering person is at high risk for relapse.

It is critical for anyone in recovery to understand these warning signs:

You Stop Going to 12-Step Meetings

You will make excuses, and you don’t like the fact people pray or everyone talks too much about their past substance abuse. Most people who stay in recovery maintain some sort of connection to the 12-step programs, even if it’s only a weekly meeting. This allows you to continually be reminded of who they are and what is at stake, so it’s important to keep going.

You Only Remember Fun Times with Drugs/Alcohol

This might take the form of remembering only the good times when you were drinking or experimenting with drugs. Most addicts had a time during which they had few consequences for substance abuse. They may even have had fun. However, those times were long gone by the time you got clean. At some point, they became dependent on the drug and consequences piled up. If you find yourself smiling about the “good times,” and conveniently forgetting the misery of your later drug or alcohol use, this is a strong warning sign.

“Just One Won’t Hurt”

If you find you are talking yourself into “just one,” this is one of the most obvious signs of an impending relapse. Those in recovery know fully well the consequences of substance use, so the first step in using again is to somehow convince them that it wasn’t that bad, or that they have “changed” and won’t have the same issues this time around. The rule of thumb is that those who relapse pick up right where they left off. It might take a few days or weeks, but you will rapidly be in the same place you were when you last quit drinking or using drugs.

You might excuse this as just trying to find out how old friends are doing, but if you start seeking out old drinking buddies or people who shared your interest in using drugs, you are heading into dangerous territory.

How do you recover after a relapse?

Think about the things that helped you stop or control your self-harm before. These strategies have already worked for you and may work again. You may have found particular distraction techniques useful so you could try them again or try different ones.

Remember: you’re not the only one who has gone back to self-harming after stopping, so don’t see this as a step back, see it as a temporary coping mechanism you used to get you through a tough time. Get outside; take in some fresh air and exercise, even if it’s just a brisk walk. Any exercise gets the feel-good hormones, endorphins, pumping round your body and makes you feel happier and more positive. 

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