The subject of relapse (and how to prevent it) is without a doubt one of the top concerns that any recovering addict has. The threat of relapse and avoiding that relapse is at the forefront of the minds of addicts, something they think about on a regular basis. Luckily, there is much that individuals in recovery can do and take action on to prevent a relapse from ever occurring.
A relapse is dangerous. However, it need not be deadly. The most troubling point of a relapse is someone believing that they have failed in recovery. That they have let everyone down around them and as a result continue to use drugs or alcohol. This stigma or “relapse anxiety” felt by many is important to put in context. A relapse is not a free ride, but neither does it have to be a death sentence.
With that being said, a relapse could mean the end of everything, the end of all the hard work, and the end of all efforts taken in the direction of triumphing over addiction. Just that chance alone is reason enough to avoid relapse at all costs, not even considering all of the other threats and risk factors that abound relapse.
When an addict relapses, the biggest danger here is that they could die while relapsing. This is, of course, the big fear. And it is a fear based out of logic too.
As an addict goes into recovery and stops using drugs and alcohol, their bodies begin to lose tolerance for such substances. Their bodies resume a normal state, naturally purified of drug chemicals.
When a recovering addict picks up the needle, bottle, pipe, or other paraphernalia and relapses into drug use once again, they are doing so after a sustained period of abstinence. The individual goes right back to the dosage of substances they were used to, thinking that is how much they should take because it is how much they were taking before.
Oh, how wrong they could be.
When a recovering addict relapses and uses the same amount of substances they were used to when they were doing drugs, they take a huge risk as their bodies are nowhere near able to sustain that amount of substances. The individual takes what they think they can handle, promptly overdoses, and risks death. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a significant percentage of those who overdose do so on a relapse, not on regular, daily drug use.
This is one of many risks at hand when an individual considers relapsing.
The key to avoiding relapse lies in focusing attention elsewhere, in getting one’s attention off of the prospect of continued drug use and instead focusing that attention on other, more positive, more ideal prospects. In nearly every case this means consistently working a recovery program, finding a group of friends who do not use, and focusing on healthy habits.
Recovering addicts who are successful in their recovery are those recovering addicts who take it upon themselves to remove addiction constraint and risk. These are the individuals who give it there all, and who dive into activities that promote sober living and a healthy life in general. They leave the fear of drug use and addiction behind them as they dive into their new lives.
People in recovery take part in healthy physical activities like Yoga, Pilates, dance classes, gym exercises, outdoor activities, sports, exploration, cardio exercises, swimming, and other such physical endeavors. Such physical exercise promotes endorphin releases, which is a healthy, positive way to experience a natural high that rewards the body, not detracts from it.
Another approach that recovering addicts take to build stability in their sobriety is they dive into a hobby or activity that interests them. A positive route towards some endeavor is more beneficial than anything drug or alcohol related is, and recovering addicts know this instinctively. When recovering individuals adopt a pastime, it gives them something to focus on that is not negative and unhealthy.
Yet another approach for recovering addicts is to dive into a new career or a new passion. Or they could reinvent themselves in their current career. Recovering addicts are more successful at avoiding relapse when they view life after rehab as an opportunity for a new life rather than a shell of an existing one.
Some individuals approach life after rehab in fear, constantly worried about relapse and about protecting themselves. They are not stable or happy. The recovering addicts who get out of rehab and leap forwards into life, energy abounding, spirituality soaring, considering themselves clean and new individuals who have a second chance to do better things, they are the ones who have the best chances at staying clean and sober indefinitely.