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Recognizing the Signs of a Relapse

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Addiction recovery is a nonlinear and lifelong process. Even the most diligent recovery work can give way to relapse. With the right support network and relapse prevention plan, the odds of experiencing the pain of a full-on relapse decrease significantly. A relapse prevention therapy program helps people in recovery plan for and, in many cases, avoid the painful consequences of relapse. At Nashville Treatment Solutions, we have extensive experience creating effective relapse plans and understanding the signs of a relapse. If you or someone you love needs relapse prevention support in addiction recovery, reach out to us at 866.714.5630.

Recognizing the Signs of a Relapse Before it Happens 

Relapse, or deterioration after a period of improvement, is a natural part of the healing and recovery process. There are three phases of relapse in addiction recovery: 

  • Emotional (unconscious decline in wellness and healthy habits)
  • Mental (internal conflict or bargaining)
  • Physical (actually acquiring and using)

Experiencing one or more of the phases of relapse is not a sign of failure but rather an opportunity to evaluate what is and isn’t working and practice the vital skill of reaching out for help and support. In addiction recovery, relapse can feel threatening. It can seem like a slippery slope, one with very high stakes. When unchecked, it can lead to disastrous consequences. Learning to recognize the signs of relapse before it reaches the physical stage, and having a plan in place, can significantly lower the stakes.

Some signs that indicate the potential onset of a physical relapse are:

  • Social isolation
  • Boredom
  • Easy access to substances
  • Major life transitions
  • Illness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Dwelling on negative emotions
  • Stress
  • Declining self-care
  • Mood instability
  • Romanticizing active addiction
  • Spending time with people who use
  • Minimizing the consequences of a relapse
  • Interpersonal relationship problems
  • Bargaining with self about using
  • Distracting thoughts about using
  • Acquiring substances or paraphernalia

Recognizing one or more of the signs of a potential relapse indicates that it’s time to put a relapse prevention plan into play and begin by reaching out for support.

Tips for Maintaining Sobriety when Relapse Threatens

Beginning to notice any signs of a potential relapse is excellent because it indicates increasing self-awareness and provides an opportunity to put the relapse prevention plan into practice. In order to maintain sobriety when relapse threatens, it’s vital to reach out to sober friends or a sponsor for support as soon as possible. In addition to reaching out for help, here are some strategies that can help maintain sobriety in the face of relapse:

  • Call a sober friend or sponsor and share honestly about what’s happening
  • Identify and minimize triggers where possible
  • Attend a meeting or support group
  • Practice meditation or meditative activities
  • Eat a balanced diet and eat enough
  • Get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours per night)
  • Exercise
  • Journal
  • Remember that “no” is a complete sentence
  • Make time for pleasurable activities
  • Treat yourself with kindness and compassion
  • Remind yourself why you quit and spend some time visualizing the future you desire

With the right strategies and support, relapse doesn’t have to be a scary prospect. By building a strong foundation for recovery with strategic relapse prevention techniques, anyone can maintain sobriety in the face of a potential relapse.

Find a Reliable Partner in Relapse Prevention in Nashville Treatment Solutions

At Nashville Treatment Solutions, our team has extensive experience creating and implementing effective, evidence-based addiction treatment and relapse prevention strategies. We are dedicated to the success of our clients and their loved ones. We understand the healing power of community. Likewise, we support clients through and after treatment by helping people develop and stay accountable to effective relapse prevention plans. Nashville Treatment Solutions is here for you if you’re unsure where to turn for help. We can help you better understand the signs of a relapse. Contact us at 866.714.5630.