5 Factors for Predicting Relapse

Imagine you find a single, flowering weed in your backyard. You are tempted to pull it, because it is a weed, but on the other hand it’s rather pretty and you don’t feel it’ll hurt to leave it there. Then imagine that when you walk outside the next day your entire yard is nothing but weeds, that single weed having taken over everything else in record time. Obviously you’d feel surprised, confused, frustrated and perhaps even overwhelmed. It is safe to say that had you known this was going to happen, you wouldn’t have hesitated to pull that weed out. Drug addiction can feel similarly surprising, confusing, frustrating and overwhelming to an individual – when they first turned to drug use they innocently believed that drugs may be able to help them with one specific problem they had in their life, they didn’t knowingly and deliberately step onto the path that would lead them into overpowering drug addiction. However, as time went on they learned that drugs provided them with relief, which was helpful, and then drugs failed to create the same desirable effects they once did.

As time progressed even further, the individual began to believe that they truly couldn’t live without drug substances as they helped them feel “normal” and able to function through each day. Then one day the individual wakes up to the fact that they have lost control over their drug use, and indeed their life, and they can’t think about anything except obtaining, using and recovering from drugs. They begin to recognize the extensive damages drug use has caused in their life, and they begin to desire freedom and sobriety. Unfortunately, this is far easier said than done, and the drug addict may soon discover that no matter how many times they wake up in the morning and make a personal promise to “quit”, they simply cannot fight the cravings that dictate their every thought, decision and action in life. They may even come to realize they need rehabilitation treatment, but this too can prove to be very difficult, further depressing the individual’s already low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Obviously, it is quite clear that the entire process of drug use, abuse, dependence, addiction and recovery can be frustrating, confusing, overwhelming and quite difficult for the individual to comprehend and manage. That said, there may be nothing quite so frustrating as working long and hard to achieve one’s freedom from drugs, only to relapse back into drug use again at some point in the future. However, if an individual can learn to predict a possible relapse, they can learn how to take action and prevent that relapse from actually occurring.

Predicting and Preventing Relapse

There are several key signs that indicate a relapse into drug use may be forthcoming:

  • Depression.
  • Cravings.
  • Stress.
  • Irritability.
  • Sleep problems.

Each of these factors can cause the individual to believe that drug use is necessary to reverse these undesirable sensations, which can press them into relapsing. Many individuals are under the impression that if they have participated in rehabilitation treatment and then feel like relapsing in the future, this must mean that full recovery is actual impossible for them to achieve. Luckily, they are wrong in this assumption. Full recovery is an ongoing process, not simply a state of existence that “magically” occurs at the conclusion of a rehabilitation treatment program. Ideally, rehabilitation treatment will not only help the individual address the physical, mental and emotional causes and effects of their drug use, but also aid them in developing the skills and abilities they need to carry on with life, overcoming challenges, difficulties and obstacles without returning to drug use. However, this does not mean that an individual who completes a rehabilitation treatment program is automatically guaranteed against all future relapse triggers. As they transition back into normal life environments and routines they may find that they experience familiar feelings or difficulties that press them to reconsider drug use. With strong, supportive aftercare services and individuals, the individual can not only learn to identify relapse triggers, but successfully address and resolve them so that they do not steal away the individual’s hard-won sobriety.

The journey to full and lasting recovery can be long and difficult, but the effort and time put into it is well worth it. After all, an individual’s life is priceless.

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