In addiction recovery there is nothing worse than a relapse. They can cause months or even years of hard work to be in vain. Predicting warning signs can increase the chance to prevent the relapse from happening in the first place, avoiding disaster, and making the rehab treatment a success.
What is an addiction Trigger?
To understand relapse, it is important to know why it can happen in the first place. Addiction rewires the brain to form associations between everyday situations, places, and people with the substances that was abused. By experiencing these situations or environments in a similar way when they were abusing it can activate the part of their brain that built up the association causing a craving to relapse. These cravings can be emotional or mental and are often too overwhelming to ignore. The stimuli that can cause relapse are commonly known as triggers or relapse triggers. And for everyone the triggers are different. So, it is impossible to determine what will become a trigger for each person. This is because the addicts themselves may not be aware of the associations within their own brain until they become triggered. Therefore, it is impossible to totally avoid every trigger.
Common triggers Internal versus External
In addition to external triggers such as people or places, it is also possible for certain emotions or feelings to result in an onset of drug cravings. Emotional triggers often pose a much greater pressure to relapse than external ones. One reason for this is that emotional triggers are much harder to avoid than physical ones. External pressures only trigger the feeling of using indirectly by associations with substance abuse, while emotional triggers can cause severe distress that can create scenarios that the abuser wants to deal with by numbing the emotions.
There are several stages of relapse. It is important that family and friends recognize these stages to avoid these behaviors or correct them before relapse. The first stage is emotional relapse. This stage often is a return to the emotions that led to addiction in the first place. It can often be seen through isolation, an unwillingness to talk to family members and friends. They may not actively participate in social settings or skip meetings and therapy sessions.
The second stage of relapse is the mental relapse, this occurs when the addict has begun to give up mentally on recovery. They may stop self-care or want to visit old friends they used with and go to old hang out spots. They mentally begin to come up with more pros than cons of substance abuse. They will become more prone to minimizing the negative outcomes or exaggerate the benefits of using. They may even rationalize being able to control their future use.
When an addict is in a risky emotional or mental state, the chances they go back to the substance increases. This is the last stage of relapse, the physical relapse. The return to the use of drugs or alcohol.
Coping with relapse
One of the main coping mechanisms used in rehab clinics is a support system. They will often have sponsors that went through the same experiences they can talk with, or they may live with others going through the same situation. This is also how Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous work. They create a community of people that can be relied upon for support if cravings happen, or they just encounter a rough day.
Another important coping mechanism is distraction. Often rehab centers will have gyms or sports equipment to help take their minds off the addiction. If addicts engage in other activities, it can keep their minds occupied with productive thoughts instead of thoughts of substance use. Before recovery, their main goals in life were satisfying their need for the substance but replacing this with healthier goals helps to keep their minds focused and to replace their old purposes in life with ones that require constant care and accountability.
Addiction recovery at StepHouse
Addiction is a serious condition that effects many people, and it can have a devasting impact on the individuals suffering and their family and friends. However, not all treatment is the same and not all clinics are the same. This is where StepHouse recovery comes in, we offer inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and monitored hospitalization. Overall, we have five different levels of treatment designed to provide the exact level of care for each case. We also provide an inhouse detox program and dual diagnosis therapy.