Makana Path Blog

September 18, 2020

What are the Symptoms of Relapse? | National Recovery Month

symptoms of relapse

In recovery, it is not unusual to be tempted by cravings or triggers that could potentially cause a relapse. Understanding the signs and symptoms of relapse can help you better prepare for these temptations so you can stay on track with your recovery. During National Recovery Month, it is important to focus on and celebrate your successes!

National Recovery Month

Recovery Month was established 31 years ago as a way to celebrate the gains made by those in recovery, just as we celebrate improvements made by those who are managing other health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. The theme for this year’s National Recovery Month is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Celebrating Connections.” This is a good time to reconnect with the people in your life who are positive supporters of your addiction treatment and recovery.

Relapse is Not Unusual

Even as you celebrate your successes in recovery, be assured that if you do relapse it does not mean you have failed. When you are going through the process of stopping your drug or alcohol use, you can make mistakes and then you usually end up feeling bad and start using again. This is what we refer to as a relapse.

Relapse is common and normal and happens to a lot of people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. People will often have one or more relapses along the way. It takes practice to learn how to live without drugs or alcohol.

Stopping drug or alcohol use is like trying to diet and lose weight. It’s hard to learn to do things differently, like eat less, exercise more, and avoid some favorite foods. It’s easy to slip up, eat too much, and gain back the weight. But then you have to try again, having learned from your temporary setback.

Seek Out – and Stay With – Treatment

It’s the same with quitting drugs or alcohol. When you have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you might get treatment, slip up, and then go back to treatment many times before it works. If that happens, you should get back into treatment as quickly as possible or find a treatment that is more suitable for your specific needs when you identify as a chronic relapse or as being treatment resistant.

Newer, more innovative and effective treatments are designed to help with relapse prevention. Relapse rates for drug use are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses. If you stop following your medical treatment plan, you are likely to relapse.

Relapse Can Be Dangerous

For some drugs, a relapse can be very dangerous—even deadly. If have stopped taking drugs and then take the same amount you used before quitting, you can easily overdose. Your body is no longer used to having the same amount of the drug in its system. An overdose happens when a drug causes serious, harmful symptoms, or death.

Relapse Prevention

The key to relapse prevention is to understand that relapse happens gradually. It begins weeks and sometime months before you pick up a drink or drug. The goal of treatment is to help you recognize the early warning signs of relapse and to develop coping skills to prevent relapse early in the process, when the chances of success are greatest. 

Warning Signs

As you continue through your successful recovery, be aware of the warning signs of a potential relapse. Understanding the signs and symptoms of relapse can help you be better prepared to take positive steps to avoid sliding back into drug or alcohol use. Watch for signs that you are:

  • Experiencing a change in attitude, particularly in regard to your addiction treatment program
  • Overly stressed, have mood swings, or exaggerated positive or negative feelings
  • Denying that the stress is becoming overwhelming
  • Experiencing a recurrence of your withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, depression, or sleep issues
  • Becoming overly defensive
  • Having trouble making decisions or are making unhealthy decisions
  • Making irrational choices and are unable to interrupt or alter those choices.

Learning from Setbacks

Relapse is not failure. National Recovery Month is a time to focus on your successes as well as a time to learn from any setbacks you may have experienced. Setbacks can be a normal part of your progress. How you deal with them plays a major role in your recovery.

Learn to identify the signs and symptoms of relapse, remembering that a setback can be any behavior that moves you closer to physical relapse. Some examples of setbacks are not setting healthy boundaries, not asking for help, not avoiding high-risk situations, and not practicing self-care. A setback does not have to end in relapse to be worthy of discussion in therapy.

Intensive Healing for Relapse Prevention

At Makana Path, we know that relapse does not mean failure. It does mean that your treatment needs to be more accurately tailored to your specific needs. Our intensive healing program can help you be more successful in your recovery, through a combination of evidence-based clinical therapies and 12-step programming. We specialize in treating chronic relapsers and those who identify as treatment-resistant and are here to support you. To learn more about our intensive healing program, contact Makana Path today by calling 1-866-313-0978.

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