According to the view of addiction as a disease, it is not something that can be fully cured. Like other chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or asthma, it can only be managed. Sometimes you can go for years in remission, only to relapse somewhere down the line. 40 to 60 percent of people with substance abuse disorders will relapse at some point, but that does not mean that treatment was a failure. It simply means that you need to resume treatment, or possibly try a different approach. Though everyone’s experience is different, there are some common factors that can be indicators of relapse.
- Severity of use. People who use drugs more heavily or frequently are more likely to relapse at some point. This may be tied into a general inability to resist temptation or view their substance abuse as a problem.
- Physical discomfort. One of the pain reasons people start using drugs is to self-medicate. Most opioid addictions begin with the legal use of painkillers. For someone with chronic pain, there might always be a temptation to go back to using opioids to cope.
- Interpersonal conflict. If you’re living with someone, whether a family member or spouse, and find yourself constantly at odds with them, you might be tempted to return to old habits to cope. Whether you’re tempted to use a substance to relax from the stress of constant arguing or in an attempt to forget your troubles, relapse is a serious concern.
- Negative emotions. Depression, anxiety, boredom, loneliness, guilt, and shame can all drive people to substance use.
- Craving cues. Being around people and places that you associate with your substance abuse can be a trigger. This is especially problematic if you did most of your using in your own home.
- Social pressure. If your social group consists of partiers, they may not understand why you choose to refrain from alcohol or drug use and attempt to peer pressure you into partaking.
- Length of time to first remission. Generally, the longer it takes someone to get sober, the more likely they are to relapse.
- There are many factors that can play into unemployment, many of which may be what helped lead to the initial addiction. A structured daily routine can be critical to recovery, because filling your time with constructive activities leaves less time for negative thoughts and gives you goals to work toward and reasons to feel accomplished. Unemployment can also be tied to underlying mental health issues like depression and anxiety, both of which are triggers for relapse.
- Lack of social support. People lacking a support system are more likely to relapse because they have no one to turn to for help or advice, and they comfort themselves with drugs or alcohol instead.
Just because you experience one of these triggers doesn’t mean you’re doomed to relapse. Identify them and come up with strategies to cope or change the things you can. By attending meetings or outpatient programs, you can find resources to help you overcome negative feelings, learn life and job skills, and build a support network.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.