Ask anyone in the final stages of addiction how much fun they’re having and the answer will always be the same. It is a living hell from which they feel trapped. They feel trapped because they are trapped. Chemical dependency has two faces that play hell with the mind and body… There’s the physical addiction… with alcohol or Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium) you could easily die attempting to quit on your own … other drugs such as pain killers only make you wish you were dead! You’ll survive… but it will be misery!
The psychological addiction is vicious! Long after you’ve detoxed and the physical cravings have ended … the mind takes over. An addict’s mind is a terrible place to be!
The reality of addiction is this … relapse is part of recovery! As an addict and recovering alcoholic I’m not happy about it but that’s a fact.
Ask anyone that has ever tried to quit smoking or lose weight. Did they relapse? Did they bum a cigarette from someone? Did they get off the diet while on vacation? I believe the answer is always yes! I smoked for 25 years and loved every Marlboro ever made … I have never smoked a bad cigarette! I was a smoking addict. It took me years to successfully walk away from a 2 pack a day habit… but I did! Along the way … I failed miserably! But I didn’t accept the failure as the way it was gonna be… I couldn’t accept it!
As with cigarettes … my addiction to pain pills and alcohol nearly killed me. I tried to quit over and over with no success. By the time I entered the Betty Ford Center in California … I could have written a program of recovery from all the treatment centers I’d been in previously. If I were to add up all the money spent on drugs and alcohol, trips to rehab and economic losses from opportunities I destroyed … I could be living in Malibu! Addictions suck on every level.
What I’ve come to realize is that I will be addicted to drugs and alcohol and cigarettes for the rest of my life! Once I accepted that and realized I was not a bad person simply screwing up my life … but a person living with a disease things got easier… I look at it like diabetes … if you have it … you learn to live with it or it kills you.
Nothing I have ever tried has worked to keep me sober. My mind knows what’s best for me and if tells me to just have “one” … everything will be OK …. My mind is so full of shit!
My life is wonderful and I have everything I need to be happy. What I don’t need is a relapse to screw everything up! I have a check list that helps me maintain this happy life … I want to share it with you….
The 9 signs of relapse below are indicators that something might be wrong and should propel you to get support for yourself or your loved one right away.
Sign 1: Longing for the old days.
It can be easy to remember only the good times when you were using, since when you first started you might have been partying a lot and having fun. But remember, you got sober for a reason – there came a point when drug or alcohol use was no longer fun. In fact, it probably created a lot of harm to your health, personal life, professional life, and financials…
Sign 2: Believing you can use again without falling back into addiction.
While recovering, you may be compelled to have use recreationally, for example by having “just one drink,” thinking you’ve beaten your addiction. Those strong in recovery understand that just one time is bound to become many more times and back to the place you worked so hard to leave.
Sign 3: Starting to reconnect with old friends from your addiction days.
It’s normal to miss your friends but putting yourself back into an environment in which you used regularly is too tempting for most people struggling with a substance use disorder to ignore. Relapse prevention relies on new healthy environments that promote sobriety.
Sign 4: Becoming defensive and beginning the pattern of denial you had while using.
If you are sliding back into your old patterns, you probably recognize it to some degree but take a defensive stance in denial of it to yourself and your friends. An extremely defensive attitude should sound an alarm to you and those close to you that you may be damaging your own recovery efforts.
Sign 5: Changes in attitude or behavior.
Sudden behavioral and attitude changes are clear signals that something is wrong. If you are abandoning your recovery efforts and noticing changes in your attitude and/or sudden feelings of depression and loneliness, a drug relapse may be close at hand.
Sign 6: Breaking down of social relationships.
A network of support is a crucial element in maintaining sobriety. A lack of continued focus on maintaining personal connections can mean something is wrong – especially if you find you’re:
Arguing more with friends.
Lying to your loved ones.
Spending less time with family.
Resenting those who are trying to help
Sign 7. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities.
Positive activities can be key in preventing a relapse. Loss of interest in the hobbies that you love is a red flag that your focus is in danger of shifting from your recovery to negative feelings, thought patterns, and the desire to use.
Sign 8. Sudden appearance of withdrawal symptoms.
If you notice someone is suddenly exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, be concerned. This is one of the most telling relapse symptoms.
Sign 9: Loss of belief in addiction recovery program.
A sudden shift in the way you think about your recovery program can lead you quickly down the path to using again. Belief in and dedication to your program is an essential part of staying sober.
Relapse Does Not Equal Failure
One of the most important things for recovering addicts and those around them to realize is that presence of the warning signs listed above or even a full-blown relapse doesn’t equal failure.
The truth is that relapses are common for people attempting to recover from drug or alcohol addictions. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 60 percent of all recovering addicts experience a relapse at some point in their lives.
If you or a loved one has fallen back into addiction, try not to assign blame or say that recovery failed. You can always get back on the road to recovery. You might have one more party in you … but there is no guarantee you will live to talk about it!
I do not have the answers to anyone’s problems. All I know is what is working for me… I hope it helps you!