Anticipating and Preventing Relapse
Recovery is more than just not using alcohol, drugs or gambling. The first step in recovery is stopping the use or activity. The next step is not starting again. This process is called relapse prevention. Relapse is going back to substance use and the behaviors that go along with it and usually these behaviors start before the relapse. So, learning to recognize the beginning of a relapse can help people in recovery stop the process before they start using or gambling again.
Sobriety is a lifelong process and effort. It is important for those in recovery to pay attention to addictive behaviors. So, lying, stealing and being unreliable are types of addictive behaviors. Therefore, when these behaviors reappear people in recovery should be alerted that relapse will soon be to follow if they do not intervene. A recent article discusses what can happen to those who choose to relapse and the seriousness of this disease.
In addition, there is addictive thinking which means having thoughts that make substance use or gambling seem okay. In twelve step programs they call this stinking thinking. Some examples might be someone saying to themselves, “I work hard for my money and I will do what I want” or that, “I deserve this”. Others might say “Just one time is not going to hurt me” or “I don’t care anymore.”
Another question to consider is how have you tried to find excuses to gamble or use substances? Addicts tend to use financial worry or will just make a problem bigger than what it is. Then the next thing they know is that they use these as a reason to relapse. For an addict these excuses and others will require getting help from someone else in recovery to break this train of thought.
Furthermore, there is what is called emotional build up for individuals in recovery. Emotional build up is having feelings that just don’t seem to go away and they just keep getting stronger. Sometimes the feelings seem unbearable. Some examples might be boredom, anxiety, sexual frustration, or depression. Feelings like these can easily lead to a relapse. When an addict is feeling like this he or she too will need to seek help from another addict or in some cases they may need to contact a medical professional.
But the good news is that in the case of boredom we can have some great peace of mind when we realize that we don’t have to always have something going on. This can be very liberating. It is important for the addict to find healthy things to do to help reduce the boredom they might be experiencing. Performing a chore or some little task can be useful. The same is true for any other negative feelings a person might be having. Sometimes just distracting oneself is helpful or even better doing something just for fun. Whatever you choose to do it will be worthwhile to stay on the right track!