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Top Warning Signs of Relapse

relapse begins long before the substance is actually ingested

It is often said that a relapse begins long before the substance is actually ingested.  It is my belief that there exist certain warning signs that are commonly associated with an eventual relapse.  If identified early, it is possible to address these changes in thinking and behavior in a way that will prevent a relapse from occurring.  Below is a list of the top warning signs: Attitude Change –For one reason or another, you decide that your 12-step or mutual aid group (AA, NA, etc.) is less important than other people, places, or things in your life. As a result you begin to resort to old thinking patterns or thinking that leads to risky decision making. You are simply not working the program that helped you sustain recovery in the first place. You stop calling your sponsor and sober network. You instinctively know something is not quite right but you can’t put your finger on it. You decided to do nothing and wait it out. Increased Stress –Life is stressful. When you were using, alcohol and/or drugs helped to alleviate the stress of everyday living, at least for a period of time. You sought help for your addiction at a residential treatment center but after 30 days you were released back into the wild. In the “real world,” your stress level increases simply because your circumstances are always changing and situations arise. You can’t seem to navigate your way through life’s obstacles; you haven’t had the experience of working through problems in sobriety. You react negatively to outside stimuli and begin to experience emotional highs and lows. You may feel overwhelmed for no apparent reason. You don’t call your sponsor or sober  network. You are in danger. Denial – You still have a drug and/or alcohol problem, there’s no denying it. But you try to deny that stress is overtaking your physical and emotional being. In an attempt to cope with the stress, you try to convince yourself that all is well and fine. And because addicts often bottle their emotions up, you ignore the warning signs, dismiss the feelings of stress, and stop sharing with others.  You are in denial that stress will take you back out. You are in danger. The Top Signs of Drug RelapseChange in Behavior– When you first got sober, you developed a routine that worked for you. Your compulsive, unhealthy behaviors were replaced by structured, planned activities, often thought through with the help of a sponsor and sober network. Now you’ve changed your daily routine. Maybe you skip that Tuesday night meeting, a sober commitment, or home group. You are avoidant of others who previously gave you solid, sober advice. You become defensive when asked about your abrupt change in behavior and begin making choices that appear irrational to outsiders. Instead of recognizing your impulsive behavior as a product of “stinking thinking,” you justify your poor judgment by claiming that you know what’s best for you. You are in danger. Social Breakdown – You slowly begin to withdraw from your sober living  support network. Previously, you relied on your sober friends and family to help you make healthy choices and constructive plans. You shy away from your support group meetings because that is the place where people are most honest with you, telling you what you most likely do NOT want to hear. You begin to isolate yourself. You might even begin to call or text message old friends and using partners. You romanticize the “good old days.” You are in danger.   Relapse – One day, the idea of a drink or drug becomes somehow reasonable. You try it, and say to yourself, just once. Since once is never enough, you attempt what many refer to as “controlled” or “social” use.  Shame and guilt overwhelm you, along with an increasing urge to use more frequently. You are now caught up in the throes of addiction.  The good news: there is help. Most experts agree that long-term treatment greatly improves your chances for sustained recovery. A long-term treatment program such as Turnbridge can help in treating chronic alcohol and drug addiction by providing an intensive, structure treatment plan that cares for the whole individual over an extended period of time.   ……………………… Bryant Abbott Phase II Case Manager Turnbridge 203-937-2309