The disease of addiction can happen to anyone under a number of different circumstances. For some, the precursor to addiction involves abusing medication prescribed for legitimate conditions, rendering the medicine less effective as the body becomes increasingly dependent.
Others become curious about recreational substance abuse, which leads them to embark on a journey of increasingly frequent intoxication and the development of physical dependency. No matter how it occurs, alcohol and drug addiction take hold of a person, and it can be difficult for him or her to break free.
Fortunately, individuals in active addiction can overcome the chronic, progressive disease through treatment. Addiction treatment will vary from one person to the next, depending on each individual’s recovery needs, but most addiction treatment programs include counseling and psychotherapy, group sessions, life skills therapy, support groups, and any number of complementary or holistic treatments.
However, although rehabilitation has allowed many to return to sobriety, treatment is not a cure-all for addiction and its many effects. In fact, it’s often said that the real work and effort individuals put into their recovery actually begins after completing a treatment program and returning home.
Early recovery relapse is an ever-present danger, requiring the strength of will and conviction as well as a support network and other essential resources. When relapse occurs, it’s often found to have been preventable with sufficient resources. As such, here are seven common reasons that individuals give when they go through an early recovery relapse.
1. Stress & Anxiety
One of the most common triggers for relapse at any point in recovery is stress. When individuals in recovery experience hardships—difficulties at work, financial trouble, family problems, and so on—they often recall all those times of using alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. Using addictive substances as a coping mechanism for years or even decades can be an incredibly difficult habit to break. As such, an important part of recovery is learning effective, healthy alternatives to substance abuse and ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, such as meditation and other calming techniques.
2. Socializing with Substance Abusers
People in active addiction tend to mostly socialize with other substance abusers. It’s common for those who develop an addiction to stop socializing with their previous, non-addicted friends in favor of individuals they associate with alcohol or drug abuse. In some instances, these new friends can be sources for obtaining substances of choice.
However, after completing an addiction recovery program, it can be difficult to simply cease contact with the individuals that comprise most of one’s social circle. Unfortunately, individuals in early recovery sometimes try to socialize with their old, substance-abusing friends, which puts them in situations where they are tempted to have an early recovery relapse.
3. Complacency in Recovery
There’s a common misconception that completing an addiction treatment program means one has finished recovery and is safe from falling back into the throes of addiction. The pretense of this misconception is that recovery is a task that one starts and finishes like any other task, which can result in complacency after graduating from a treatment program.
Individuals who have become complacent in recovery underestimate many risks and fail to keep up with their continued recovery, becoming increasingly absent at support groups and psychotherapy. As such, it’s important for individuals to remain aware that they must put ongoing effort into recovery to continue their success.
4. Becoming Extremely Tired or Overworked
When in active addiction, exhaustion is a common trigger for substance abuse, much like feelings of stress and anxiety. In recovery, feeling tired and overworked often remains a trigger, putting individuals at risk for relapse. Much like children, being extremely tired can make people emotional and impulsive, prone to making poor or regrettable decisions. It’s important for those in recovery not to overwork themselves or push themselves too far, especially to the point where they feel fatigue.
Much like the saying goes, idle hands can sometimes be prone to poor decisions. In fact, substance abuse often starts as merely something to do and a way to kill time while blowing off steam. When people in addiction recovery regain their sobriety, feeling bored can evoke memories of the times when they’d alleviate their boredom with alcohol or drug intoxication.
As such, individuals in early recovery should pursue interests and develop hobbies outside the realm of substance abuse, allowing them to occupy their downtime with enjoyable pursuits that aren’t harmful to themselves or others.
To an addicted person, there’s never a bad time for substance abuse. Individuals who have alcohol or drug dependency often abuse mind-altering substances during times of celebration: birthdays, Christmas, Independence Day, anniversaries, and many other occasions. Unfortunately, many individuals begin to associate celebration with intoxication during active addiction, which can be a difficult association to break.
As such, remaining sober during the holidays can be difficult for those in early recovery, especially since these individuals have likely not experienced sobriety during a holiday gathering in some years. However, having someone else who is sober attend holidays gathering with the individual in early recovery has proven to be especially helpful. Those in early recovery must simply learn, or relearn, that one mustn’t be intoxicated to celebrate.
Similar to how boredom can lead to early recovery relapse, being isolated and lonely can make individuals susceptible to relapse as well. Feeling isolated can make individuals feel like they don’t matter or that nobody cares about them. Connecting with others can be an important part of maintaining sobriety. In fact, developing a support network is considered an essential part of lasting recovery. When feeling isolated, individuals in early recovery should contact a sponsor or loved one or perhaps attend a support group meeting to refrain from relapsing.
Help Avoid Early Relapse with Arete Recovery
Relapse is an ongoing risk when in early recovery. However, it’s a risk that can be prevented in many effective ways. If you or someone you love is battling with addiction and would like to explore recovery options, Arete Recovery can help you today. Call us now at 855-781-9939 or connect with us online to speak with one of our recovery specialists who can match you or your loved one to the right treatments to return to a life of health, sobriety, and fulfillment.