Relapse is the most feared experience on a post-rehab basis. A relapse can present itself in emotional, mental and physical forms, ultimately reverting recovery progression.
While to recovering addicts, relapse is a sign of failure, the reality of relapse is in fact far from such perception.
Relapsing, where either the idea of or the consumption of drugs and alcohol are experienced is in fact a sign. It’s a sign that greater change is required, that commitment may be lacking, that a routine needs to become more sustainable, and that greater relapse prevention planning is needed.
As relapse is a key concern for many recovering addicts, causing vulnerabilities on a post-rehab basis, gauging steps to avoid, prevent and suppress the influence of relapse is a duty for us here at Action Rehab.
Whether you’re currently experiencing the signs of relapse, or have significant worries about preserving long-term recovery, here’s how to avoid relapse. With some guidance, with a set routine, and with a normalised reality without drug and alcohol exposure, relapse risks can be reduced.
If signs of relapse are however experienced, please do not give up or lose hope, as the results of a relapse can be worked through, helping you reach the strongest level of recovery that you’ll ever experience.
The reality of relapse
Relapse is seen as the worst possible result on a post-rehab basis. It’s defined as failure, as the inability to sustain sober living, and as weakness. Recovering addicts commonly place pressures on themselves to avoid any degree of relapse. However, while taking two steps back may be disappointing, the reality of relapse is very different.
Of course, any form of regression will be difficult to digest. We hope that sober living can be preserved by our clients. However, relapse is in fact common, where on average, half of recovering addicts will experience a relapse in the initial stages of recovery.
Relapse isn’t the indication of failure, but of the need to place greater focus on sober living. Whether that’s greater commitment, more structure, reduced drug and alcohol exposure, or work on stress management, relapse is a warning sign, rather than the consequence itself.
By understanding the signs of relapse, at an efficient rate, negative thoughts, justification and physical action can all be stopped and changed, to continue long-term recovery efforts. Naturally, like anything, the longer that relapse is enabled, greater efforts will be required to revert such consequences. However, with relapse prevention planning, and with the desire to continue recovery, results can be worked through.
Here are the types of relapse to watch out for, along with how to avoid relapse in the event of distractions, obstacles or a slip in management.
Types of relapse
There are three different types of relapse, starting with an emotional response, which if unnoticed can progress into mental or physical relapse. Each type carries different signs and results, which are very important to know, helping to gauge the severity of such relapse and active steps to move forward.
Emotional relapse is where emotions will commonly be placing recovering addicts in vulnerable situations. While active thoughts will not consider or justify drug and alcohol consumption, emotional instability will usually be increasing the risk of consumption, as a coping strategy.
If your emotions are starting to change, if you’re feeling a sense of negativity or pressure, or if stress levels are heightened, each can be a sign of emotional relapse. To avoid such a relapse, keeping in touch with your feelings, having clear expectations and opening up to those around you will be encouraged.
A mental relapse can develop if emotions aren’t controlled, which is where drug and alcohol consumption will be thought about and even potentially justified. While physical consumption will not take place through such relapse, if the idea of consumption is becoming a frequent thought, this is an indication of mental relapse.
It is normal to experience some thoughts of consumption throughout the recovery process. Yet it’s how you deal with those thoughts which can control the risk of relapse. If you’re struggling mentally, this is the time to again open up to loved ones, work through relaxation and distraction techniques, and think rationally about drug and alcohol consumption.
For some individuals, a physical relapse cannot be avoided. Here’s where physical consumption will take place, which can be the result of significant exposure, a lack of commitment, the resurfacing of triggers, or an unmanageable lifestyle. In the event of a physical relapse, it’s encouraged that you reach out for professional support, as soon as possible, to consider ongoing treatment.
A relapse can happen for any individual at any given time. We however hope that our below tips on how to avoid relapse can support you through your initial stages of recovery to ease the normalisation of sobriety.
How to avoid relapse after rehab
Methods for avoiding relapse will carry varying weightage for each individual. Coping strategies will differ, tolerances will be dissimilar, and lifestyle choices will significantly vary. However, there are some positive steps that can help to avoid and suppress relapse triggers, which are shared below.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Your post-rehab lifestyle will dictate your emotional responses, your mental health, your self-awareness and value, and your happiness. By focusing on your nutrition, your wellbeing, your mindfulness, your routine, your stress management and your coping strategies, all of which should be positive and healthy, you can also dictate your response to old triggers.
- Be transparent with your feelings
Now more than ever is the time to be in touch with your feelings, while also being transparent with others around you. Understandably, you may feel disappointed if you do experience any signs of relapse. However, the sooner you can open up and work rationally around such feelings, the better recovery process you can experience.
- Suppress drug and alcohol exposure
Exposure to drugs and alcohol can trigger relapse risks, even for those with healthy routines. By suppressing your exposure, as much as possible, by maintaining a clean house, you’ll have the chance to control your environments, influences and behaviours.
- Know your triggers and the signs of relapse
Knowing your personal triggers of initial consumption, along with the signs of relapse can help you avoid the possibilities of relapse. Being ahead of the game and aware can help you stop the development of such relapse risks.
- Manage your expectations
Recovering from an addiction can be very tough. It’s important that you manage your expectations to meet the reality of relapse, and how if you do experience any signs, that you can revert consequences. Significant pressure can cause relapse, which is why you should aim for balance and sustainability, to avoid relapse risks.
- Rely on aftercare support
Aftercare services are commonly available through rehab, offering structure and support on a post-rehab basis. Relying on aftercare support and merging it into your weekly routine can provide structure, accountability and a milestone to work towards.
- Make use of your relapse prevention plan
A relapse prevention plan will be personalised for you, considering your triggers, your lifestyle choices and your coping strategies. Making use of your relapse prevention plan is highly encouraged, especially in the event of risks, to provide direction, confidence and a proactive way out from drug and alcohol exposure.
Support is always here
Knowing how to avoid relapse through lifestyle choices and planning is extremely important. However, it’s also important to remember that support is always available, whether your feelings are a false alarm or in fact the unfolding of physical relapse.
At Action Rehab, we’re here to offer guidance, along with direction for initial recovery and relapse risks. If you’re at all worried, we’re here to assist, to ease your long-term recovery road. Reach out today whether you have a question about relapse or hope to embark on the rehabilitation journey.