A relapse occurs when an individual returns to former drug-using or drinking patterns and any motivation to return to a recovery lifestyle occurs weeks, months, or even years later. Relapse is a process that begins when you start slipping back into old behavior patterns. This process begins long before you take your first drink, drug or gamble. Because it is a disease, it is not uncommon to relapse in early recovery. If this happens to you, remember that it is just a small setback, and no reason to give up on having a chemical-free life.
Relapse Prevention is important because early recovery is filled with change and unfamiliar feelings. This change can cause feelings of confusion and tension, which may leave you feeling incapable of handling problems. A support network of sober friends and mentors can be extremely helpful during this early stage.
Recognize the Danger Signs
A return to alcohol and/or drug use does not just happen. There is a process leading to the return. When you begin to slip you go through changes that could lead to a possible relapse.
Some Danger Signs:
You begin to isolate yourself from others and feel bored and lonely much of the time.
You find yourself easily irritated and relationships become strained.
You doubt your ability to stay abstinent.
You act impulsively under stress, which causes even more stress.
Your eating and sleeping patterns are disturbed and you cannot get things done.
You cover up your feelings of unhappiness and helplessness.
You frequently feel sorry for yourself.
You begin to think that you can handle alcohol, drugs or gambling again and it will help you feel more at ease.
If an individual has a “slip”, this does not mean that they have forgotten everything they have learned in recovery.
A person who has a slip does not necessarily hate their friends or family.
The fact that a person has a slip does not mean that they had inadequate or substandard counseling for their addiction. A person who has a slip is not necessarily unmotivated and the slip or lapse may be the event they need to achieve even greater motivation for recovery.