[How to] Recognize the Signs of a Relapse
To realize if someone is battling addiction and if they are trying to avoid getting help, you need to understand the symptoms of addiction and signs of relapse and be ready to look for them. Understanding denial is important too; nothing hinders the ability to reach an addiction-free life like refusing to acknowledge the reality of addiction in the first place. This is the origin of a recovery-related phrase you’ve probably heard: “the first step is admitting you have a problem.”
Arizona Addiction Treatment Network wants to make sure you have the best services needed for you or your loved ones to come face-to-face with addiction and acknowledge it. With our outstanding resources, we will help you learn how to notice addiction signs and, if you’re able to find progress in rehabilitation, notice the relapse warning signs and signs of relapse that may crop up later.
Arizona Alcohol Drug Rehab can connect you with the support you and your loved ones need to get over the hurdle of addiction together. Call us today at 623-263-7371.
Denial is typical of addiction sufferers who aren’t ready to quit. However, the sooner they can face reality, the sooner they can start their journey to an addiction-free lifestyle. Read on to find out more, and be sure to reach out to our experts with any questions.
See the Relapse Warning Signs Early
Believing in yourself and your abilities is a great thing, but many individuals in denial will cite their “experience” to prove they’re worthy of doing whatever they want. “This is nothing to me. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid” or “I’ll be fine. I’m used to this” highlight a few ways in which addiction denial can take place.
In actuality, denial can be deeply rooted in something else. According to Mayo Clinic, “denial is a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to distressing situations.” One way to look at the effect of denial is imagining what will happen when trying to beat a speeding train.
When approaching train tracks with a train oncoming, you will see railroad lights flash, bells ring, and the gates close to alert drivers and pedestrians. Those who are alert take heed to the signs of the train coming, and want to remain safe to cross the tracks; they will stop. On the flip side, the choice to run through the lights, bells, and gates is always available. Dismissing the danger is your choice. However, your chances of making it across are a lot better if you just heed the signs.
Signs of Addiction
The human body can be inserted in that analogy when talking about noticing the symptoms of addiction. Every organ, bone, muscle, and nerve in your body has various ways of “calling out” its issues, just like the railroad bells, lights, and gates.
For those battling addiction and debating seeking help, they can feel their body telling them that something is coming. Those that choose to ignore the signs, on the other hand, end up right in the path of the proverbial locomotive. Some won’t be able to get out of the way in time, and those who do won’t have any assurance of surviving the next encounter. Take heed to the signs and don’t let your loved one be the next casualty.
How to Help an Addict
Your loved one is suffering from addiction, pure and simple. It doesn’t matter how long they’ve been doing it, how high-functioning they are, or how great it makes them feel; their life is at risk, and you shouldn’t ignore it.
Although you want to show patience, you don’t want to enable the addictive behavior. It can be hard to be sure when you are heeding a cry for help versus enabling behavior that needs to stop.
Take a moment to observe your friend, family member, or significant other. Do they want to partake in different unhealthy practices all the time? What about one specific unhealthy practice? Does it seem like every time something happens, they resort to substance use?
Mayo Clinic says that when someone is in denial, they “won’t acknowledge a difficult situation, try not to face the facts of a problem, and downplay possible consequences of the issue.”
When someone is able to face their issue and acknowledge its presence, the need for denial quickly fades away. Attempting to replace reality with a pleasant illusion won’t do anything but make an addict sink deeper into their addiction since the whole point of the illusion is to shield them from the unappetizing fact that they need to quit.
Interfering with the illusion is not likely to bring a good reaction. Knowing how to help an addict can require a delicate approach. Indeed, some people would rather not say anything about a loved one’s addiction because they fear it will damage or end the relationship. But you should consider the possibility that a relationship that can’t survive facing facts was never going to be truly viable.
If anything, transparency should be the fuel to your relationship with your loved one. Of course, they don’t see what they’re doing as an addiction. They don’t want to. They’re looking at it as an outlet or even a simple, harmless good time. However, it is not an act of love to let them keep using a substance that you know will only hurt them in the end.
Am I An Enabler?
According to Psychology Today, addiction sufferers will “…find reality repugnant, uncomfortable, and overwhelming, and prefer, like the psychotic, withdrawal into fantasy, bliss, or oblivion over reality.” If you can understand that, then you can understand that their addiction is deeper than just chasing the next great feeling. For many addicts, it is more like a medication regimen, albeit not a legitimate or healthy one, and they prefer to be around people who will excuse it.
Enabling by “Keeping Them Company”
It’s also easy to overlook someone’s addiction when you are indulging in the same thing. Sometimes addiction is hard to see for what it is because using certain substances (such as alcohol) in large amounts is thought of as perfectly acceptable at certain events or in certain cultures.
Unfortunately, though, some individuals can’t function or enjoy themselves unless their preferred substance is involved. It’s common for people who are struggling with addiction to skip out on events, regardless of importance, because their favorite vice isn’t present.
If you happen to be, say, at a party with a loved one that you suspect has a substance abuse problem, keeping an eye on that person is key to figuring out if you are right. This would require you to take it easy on substances yourself, pay attention, and find an appropriate time to mention your concerns. Be courageous and genuine, and make it clear you are offering help.
Before helping others accept their addiction, you must first look within yourself and figure out if you fall in the same category. If you are usually indulging in the same acts as the person you suspect is an addict, it could be that you have a substance problem too. Hopefully, you don’t fit that criterion, but if not, then great! If you do, it’s time to make some changes starting with facing and acknowledging it. Either way, you want to make sure you are not enabling your addicted loved one’s behavior by excusing it or going along with it.
After accepting that addiction signs are present, the next move is to find some help. Understand that the rehabilitation process isn’t easy. When going through rehab, relapse is sadly always a possibility.
Risk of Relapse
Relapse occurs when a recovering addict gives in to the temptation of their addiction during rehabilitation. Signs of relapse can begin to show at various moments in a recovering addict’s life, but it’s not uncommon for no one to notice them in time. Even though relapsing feels like a complete failure, it isn’t. It’s far better to look at it as an expected complication of chronic disease.
Addiction cannot be cured, only managed, and sufferers will have “flare-ups” just as they might with another chronic condition. How you deal with these is as much a part of recovery as trying to avoid them.
When suffering from substance abuse, the body becomes so reliant on the substance that breaking the regular routine of using it can be a difficult thing to get through. Addiction signs tend to worsen as the body is longing for just one more taste. This feeling will not be constant, but it will return from time to time. Hence, it is vital to pay attention to the signs of relapse.
Signs to Watch For
Being educated on relapse warning signs will help the recovering addict understand their triggers, recognizing when the risk of relapse is high, and hopefully stop it before it starts. And of course, this understanding can help you as a loved one to give more support. According to the U.S.A. Pharmacists Recovery Network, relapse warning signs can show as:
- Expecting too much from others
- Letting up on discipline
- Use of mood-altering chemicals
In addition, self-pity is common. “Why do these things happen to me?” “How can this be so hard?” “Nobody appreciates all that I am doing.” Self-pity shows dissatisfaction with recovery in general and is a breeding ground for pessimism and low self-esteem. You might find that this feeling comes with other kinds of negativity, thoughts such as “relapse can happen to me” accompanied by a sense of resignation. This is dangerous thinking, as anything can happen to you, but focusing on it only makes it more likely.
Ignorance Might Not Be Bliss After All
You can choose to ignore the addiction signs, relapse warning signs, or even the denial of an addict. However, you can’t ignore the effects.
Addiction affects not just the person afflicted but the people around them as well. Regardless if you feel like anyone cares about you or not, there is a pretty good chance that someone does and that it will hurt them to see what you’re going through. There is an upside to this, though, because that same person may turn out to be a vital source of support.
Other sources of support include group therapy and 12-step programs. These are common ways to find concern and encouragement from people who understand where you’re coming from because of their own struggles with addiction.
It isn’t too late to acknowledge an addiction that you or a loved one might have. Don’t look at it as chastisement. The only punishment that comes out of this is the mental and physical effects that could turn fatal if denial continues.
Whether you’re looking for guidance on how to deal with your substance abuse problem, or you are searching for ways to help a loved one, call Arizona Addiction Treatment Network today at the number below. We can help you identify and address denial, and provide the necessary resources for you and your loved one to find the treatment you need. The problem will only get bigger if you try to avoid it, so now is the time.
Written by Camden Henry
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