7 Reasons Why People in Early Recovery Relapse

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.

5. Boredom

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.

6. Holidays

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.

7. Isolation

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.

 

What You Should Know About Benzo Detox

Benzodiazepines, known as “benzos” for short, are medications that depress the body’s central nervous system. Commonly known as sedatives or tranquilizers, they are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and even severe withdrawal. Occasionally, benzos may be used as an anesthetic before surgery as well.

The benzodiazepine class of drugs includes:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Oxazepam (sold under the brand name Serax)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)

This list is not exhaustive, as about 2,000 benzos have been produced, but only about 15 have been FDA-approved, according to WebMD.

Benzodiazepines enhance the functioning of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is how this type of drug gets its sedative, hypnotic, anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, and muscle relaxant properties. Benzos can be either short-acting, intermediate, or long-acting, making them a flexible type of medication for different treatment conditions.

Handle With Extreme Care

Despite their therapeutic use, benzos are dangerous drugs and should be handled with care. Benzodiazepine addiction is a cause for concern. Data show that benzodiazepine prescriptions have increased considerably in the US, according to an April 2016 study, as well as overdose mortality involving the drugs.

Benzo misuse and abuse is also an issue. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 5 million people age 12 and older in the US had misused benzos in the past year.

Prolonged benzo use can lead to physical and psychological dependence and addiction. This can be the case, whether the user was prescribed the drug by a doctor or abused it recreationally for its sedative effects. The more the drug is taken, the higher the tolerance is for it, and some users’ bodies will adjust to the higher doses.

Once dependence sets in, getting off benzos is difficult. Here are four things to know about the benzo detox and withdrawal process.

Benzo withdrawal can be dangerous

Strong or severe dependence on benzos is not safe. For those who wish to stop their use, be prepared to experience withdrawal symptoms. According to studies of benzo dependence, benzo withdrawal can range from mild-to-severe and can be relatively brief or protracted, depending on factors such as one’s dosage history, the length of time spent taking benzodiazepines, body size and type, medical history, and other characteristics.

Many of the symptoms that emerge during benzodiazepine withdrawal are similar to the symptoms of which the benzos were initially described; benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can include such symptoms as:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety with or without panic attacks
  • Body aches, pains
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Hot and/or cold flashes
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures

 

In the most severe instances of benzo withdrawal, individuals could potentially experience convulsions, a form of delirium tremens, hallucinations, psychosis, urges to shout to lash out, and suicidal ideations.

Benzo withdrawal rarely causes serious illnesses or death, but these medications can be dangerous and deadly if taken with alcohol or other substances. Life-threatening seizures are the biggest risk for people in benzo withdrawal.

Never quit benzos cold turkey

Regular benzo users who want to stop using are strongly advised to a) avoid quitting the drug abruptly, a process known as going cold turkey, and b) seek professional detox treatment to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Serious withdrawal symptoms can include rebound symptoms that made the person take the drug in the first place; those symptoms often return in greater severity, unfortunately.

Detox treatment under the care of licensed health care and mental health care professionals is highly recommended. A monitored withdrawal ensures clients are kept safe and comfortable and that their needs will be met throughout the process.

Tapering has helped some recovering benzo users

For those with a severe benzo dependency, medical personnel might choose to gradually and slowly wean them off the drug, a process called tapering, rather than abruptly cease one’s dosage as part of one’s benzo detoxification treatment.

Although it often takes longer than simply stopping the dosage, tapering allows one’s body to slowly adjust to the gradual decrease and elimination of benzodiazepines from the body without pushing recovering benzo users into immediate, severe withdrawal symptoms that could risk or even threaten their lives.

There are different kinds of tapering methods, and the length of the process may depend on how long the drug has been taken and whether the drug is short-acting, such as Xanax, or long-acting, such as clonazepam (Klonopin). Consult with your health professional to find the one that is right for you or your loved one.

It can take years to work through benzo withdrawal

Some people who have experienced benzo withdrawal say there is nothing quick about it. It depends on the person, but post-acute withdrawal (PAWS) symptoms, which are the emotional and psychological symptoms some recovering users experience after withdrawing from a substance for a prolonged time, can last for years.

Some of these PAWS benzo symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Energy changes
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances

Get enough rest and pay attention to your diet during this time because some foods can trigger withdrawal symptoms or make them worse. These foods include alcohol, artificial sugars, and caffeine, among others. Professional support, as well as support from friends and family, can help recovering benzo users as they manage these symptoms.

Call Arete and Start Your Recovery

To ensure safety and minimize discomfort, it’s important for people with benzodiazepine dependence or addiction to complete a benzo detox under the care of medical professionals. If you or someone you know is suffering from benzo addiction, call Arete Recovery at 855-781-9959 for a free consultation and assessment. We can walk you through your treatment options and help you start your recovery today.