Posts tagged "relapse"

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Avoiding Relapse in Addiction Recovery

March 31st, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover 0 comments on “Avoiding Relapse in Addiction Recovery”

Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process and treatment for addiction varies for each individual based on individual needs. Treatment programs teach clients how to focus on healthy, sober activities as a way to cope with anxiety, stress, depression, or PTSD. The coping mechanisms that you learn in treatment must be used throughout recovery to maintain a new, healthy, sober lifestyle.

There will be challenges throughout recovery that increase the risk of relapse. Avoid situations that heighten the temptation to use your substance of choice. Stay away from people, places, and things that are associated with drug or alcohol use. Call a sober friend or relative who can encourage you to stay sober and talk to you when cravings are intense.

Relapse is not a sign of failure. Addiction changes the way the brain functions, and affects mental and physical health. Lifestyle changes must be made to have success in recovery. The brain needs to be re-trained to function normally without depending on drugs or alcohol. Taking the steps to recovery can be very overwhelming and cravings can be strong.

To avoid relapse, discover new healthy, sober activities or hobbies. Journaling is a great way to help you recognize your success in recovery and identify how you worked through past triggers. Writing also allows you to reflect on positive experiences throughout your journey in recovery. Exercise promotes physical and mental health, and good nutrition is extremely important for your overall health.                                                          

Addiction changes your mind, body, and spirit. Relapse can heighten feelings of worthlessness, self-doubt, and guilt. It can make you feel like giving up. Never give up because of a relapse. Everything about you changes, but you can recover from addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or a substance use disorder, get help now. Do not wait to ask for help. Addiction is incurable, but treatment is available and there is hope in recovery. Take the first step toward a new, rejuvenated, healthy lifestyle in sobriety and get help today.

Serenity Springs Recovery Center focuses on rejuvenating men’s holistic spirit for success in addiction recovery. Our unique dual-diagnosis treatment program with a 12-step completion model helps men change their lives inside and out. Our mission is to provide tools and support for every client’s seamless transition into a meaningful and fulfilling life in sobriety. For information, call (386) 423-4540.

 

 

MY BOYFRIEND, HIS ADDICTION, AND ME blog post header couple on brick wall

My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me

February 8th, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Opioid Epidemic, Recover, Treatment 0 comments on “My Boyfriend, His Addiction, and Me”

This is a story of a different experience of addiction, his addiction that became our addiction. Fortunately, I am not an addict or an alcoholic. I am considered by most to be a “good girl,” raised with values and morals in my very close family in the Philippines. I was the baby of four sisters and when I finally made it to America at age fifteen. It was here in the States that I met the love of my life, Joey, who suffers from the powerful disease of addiction.

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New Year’s Resolution: No More Drugs or Alcohol

January 1st, 2019 Posted by Blog, Disease of Addiction, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 1 comment on “New Year’s Resolution: No More Drugs or Alcohol”

No more drugs or alcohol!?! This is something most addicts or alcoholics have said to themselves or others at least once or twice without success. With today being the first day of 2019, I decided to consider my own resolutions. Reflecting on my past resolutions, I realized a common thread. Resolutions are only successful when I integrate some sort of new behaviors into my life to substitute for the old behaviors.

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RESOLUTION (definition)

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a firm decision to do or not to do something

Why do all my New Year’s resolutions fail?

When considering my sobriety, I remember countless times I would decide, no more drugs or alcohol from now on! After some time and repetition, I would get so uncomfortable being sober I would feel like I was going crazy. My anxiety and depression were extremely high, which brought out irritability or anger towards anyone around me. Eventually, I would get extremely uncomfortable with myself and very insecure. I resorted back to justifying another drink or drug, saying I will just do a little this time and learn to control it.

The problem was, I could never control it even though my mind told me otherwise. The days of having a couple of beers and a joint in the first week after a relapse turned into using dangerous street drugs…. AGAIN!! With that came misery and delusion leading to suicidal thoughts and severe depression. Even more frightening were the health complications that only more drug use could cure. Of course the end result, hospitals and jails. Better than dying at least!

Changing Behaviors Through the 12 Steps

After completing residential treatment, studying the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and listening to happy sober people in meetings, I began to understand that I needed to do some serious “internal housecleaning” to have a chance at staying sober. This meant, I needed to actually replace my addiction with something else in order to achieve sobriety. This meant that I needed to work the steps and connect to a higher power or higher purpose in my life. After doing some intensive therapeutic work, I came to the same conclusion. My old ways of thinking and behaving needed a major upheaval if I wanted a shot at staying sober. I had to replace my behaviors with new behaviors which then would lead to new thoughts and insights about myself.

The Doctor’s Opinion

Men and woman drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The effect is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the truth from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort that comes at once by taking a few drinks-drinks they see others taking with impunity.

After they have succumbed to the desire again as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope for his recovery.

Big Book of Alcoholic’s Anonymous

alcohol glass tipped over with wine bottle next to it black background - new years resolution blog
Addiction Cycle (Emotional Trigger, Craving, Ritual, Using, Guilt)

Feeling Connected and Aware of My Surroundings

After completing drug and alcohol rehab and working the 12 steps, my internal feelings began to shift.

I was starting to feel relief in sobriety.

Soon, the desire to get high and drink was removed from my consciousness and I started to feel more connected to the world and people around me. Because my attitude was getting better, my external world was getting better as well. I was able to hold a job and make money and clean up my legal issues. I was also able to amend some old relationships and become a better friend and family member. The more positive feedback I received from my new lifestyle practices, the more that I wanted to expand my new healthy choices and belief systems.

Healthy Body, Mind, and Spirit

Today my recovery consists of implementing health into all 3 areas of my life which are my mind, body and spirit. I fuel my body with healthier choices like better eating habits and doing yoga. I fuel my mind by attempting to learn through reading and writing, as well as challenging myself every day to think critically and focus on my goals for self-improvement. And, both my mind and body seem to thrive better when I work on my spiritual condition. I work on this through practicing things like meditation, the 12 steps, going to meetings and trying to contribute to my society and the world. In these ways I feel connected to a higher power and the thought of using and drinking ceases to exist for me.

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Loving My New Way of Life

Today, instead of waking up every morning trying to, “just say no to using,” I’m saying “YES” to so many other aspects of life, and the need to cover up my insecurities, ceases to exist.

Now no more drugs and alcohol is a reality…. I DON’T WANT TO LIVE THAT WAY!

Today, by practicing this new way of life by replacing old behaviors with the new, I get to love who I am and love life which for this addict/alcoholic, is a complete miracle.

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Relapse Prevention Guide

September 19th, 2018 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Recover 0 comments on “Relapse Prevention Guide”

relapse preventionMaintaining sobriety and meeting treatment goals after completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can be the most difficult part of recovery. However, many people with a substance use disorder do recover from addiction and enjoy a lasting and satisfying sober lifestyle.

A number of those in recovery could relapse after treatment. Preventing or reducing the incidence of relapse by following a comprehensive relapse planning guide has helped many to enjoy drug and alcohol free lives in spite of potential relapses.

Planning and mastering the art of relapse prevention begins while you’re still in treatment. Relapse is not an out-of-the-blue event. Rather, it’s a process with a beginning, a middle and an end. As such, it can be monitored. If necessary, adjustments can be made to your relapse prevention planning to help you avoid relapse in the future.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

A 2014 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 21.5 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, a substance use disorder is “a chronic brain disease, with behavioral, biological, social, emotional and physical aspects, that is characterized by an inability to control substance abuse.”

What Is Relapse?

A substance use disorder relapse occurs when someone resumes using substances after a period of abstinence. A return to active substance use can vary in duration and intensity from one person to another.

According to the Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy journal, relapse is “a setback that occurs during the behavior change process, such that progress toward the initiation or maintenance of a behavior change goal (e.g., abstinence from drug use) is interrupted by a reversion to the target behavior.”

Relapse Is Not Failure

Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment didn’t work. For many with a substance use disorder, relapse is considered a stepping stone instead of an end point. When relapse happens, it simply indicates that treatment goals must be revisited and revised in some way.

Relapse prevention can include increased attendance at support group meetings. It can mean trying new types of therapy. It might involve that improvements in diet and nutrition or additional inpatient or outpatient treatment is necessary.

Relapse Can Be Part of the Recovery Process

With chronic addiction, relapse can be considered part of the disease. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent. Those percentage rates are similar to those seen in other chronic diseases like hypertension, asthma and type 1 diabetes.

Common Relapse Triggers

Although everyone in recovery is unique, there are some common situations, also called triggers, that seem to be especially difficult for those recovering from a substance use disorder:

  • Negative emotional states
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms like nausea and weakness
  • Emotional withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, boredom, depression, frustration and irritability
  • Time spent with friends who use
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Visitation of places where you’ve used
  • Relationships that become stressful if something goes wrong
  • Isolating behavior
  • Complacency and letting down your guard
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Peer pressure to use
  • Positive and celebratory emotional states
  • Commercials and advertisements
  • The use of will power or trying to recover by yourself
  • Behavior that tries to control your using

Negative emotional states correlate with the highest relapse rates according to a study by Marlatt and Gordon in 1985. Interpersonal conflict and negative emotional states taken together triggered half of all relapses. Being in social situations where people were using accounted for 20 percent of relapses.

Concurrent Mental Health Conditions

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as many as 7.9 million Americans with a substance use disorder have a concurrent mental health condition.

Untreated mental health conditions can trigger relapse. Treating the substance use disorder as well as the mental health condition can increase the probability of maintaining abstinence. Although substances like drugs and alcohol provide temporary relief from the symptoms of a mental health condition, they actually increase the unpleasant symptoms that those conditions generate.

Phases of Relapse

When you view relapse as a process rather than an event, it has three distinct stages. These stages are emotional, mental and physical relapse.

Emotional Relapse

You might not be thinking of using. However, if you’re harboring negative emotions and participating in high-risk behaviors, you’re creating the groundwork for relapse in the future. The emotional stage of relapse is the easiest to overcome. The later stages get progressively harder to resist.

The trick is to recognize that you’re currently in a state of emotional relapse and change your thoughts and behaviors accordingly. If you remain for too long in a state of emotional relapse, you’ll progress to a state of exhaustion. This exhausted state is called mental relapse, and it will make you want to escape.

Mental Relapse

Once you reach a state of exhaustion, you’re likely to stop taking care of yourself. You could develop poor eating and sleeping habits. You might start to feel resentful and anxious or uncomfortable in your own skin.

In a state of mental relapse, you’re likely to isolate and not ask for help. Your mind is fighting with itself about whether or not to use. You might be thinking about using even though you haven’t picked up. In the mental relapse stage, it’s common to romanticize your using days and to wonder whether you have a substance use disorder after all.

You might think that you can now control your using. You could start hanging out with friends from your using days and fantasize about picking up. You might think you can get away with using because no one will know. The longer you continue to think along those lines, the greater the likelihood that you will pick up.

Coping With the Desire to Use

When you feel like using, here are some tips to reduce the possibility of relapse:

  • Tell someone that you’re thinking of picking up.
  • Do something to turn your thoughts in another direction.
  • Go to a support group meeting and tell the group what you’re feeling.
  • Hold off on using for 30 minutes. Most urges to use will pass after half an hour.
  • Don’t use until tomorrow. By tomorrow, you probably won’t want to.
  • Stay in the now. Don’t tell yourself that you can never use again. Just don’t use today.
  • Do something that you enjoy to help you relax and unwind.
  • Go out for dinner with friends. Putting food in your stomach can take the edge off cravings.

Physical Relapse

If you don’t take preventative action while in the mental relapse mode, you’re headed for physical relapse. At that point, you’ll feel so uncomfortable that you’ll have very little defense against picking up. Relapse can still be prevented, but when you already feel an intense level of mental and emotional distress that could be eliminated by picking up, it’s very difficult to shift your train of thought and change your course of action.

What If You Relapse?

If you resume using, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Instead, seek help as soon as possible. The important thing now is to keep the relapse from progressing. If you act quickly, you can lessen the duration and severity of the experience.

Substance Use Disorder and Brain Chemistry

Substances like heroin, alcohol, cocaine and prescription painkillers all disrupt the neural pathways in the brain. These pathways affect things like impulse control, decision-making, feelings of well-being and how you experience pleasure and pain.

With regular use, you’ll need more and more of a substance to feel okay. When your brain no longer functions properly without substances, you’ll have what’s called a physical dependence.

With physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms and cravings will develop if you try to stop using. You’ll no longer feel normal if the drug is not present in your brain in sufficiently high concentrations.

When you reach this level of discomfort, it’s very easy to convince yourself that using would be a good idea. It would eliminate the cravings and withdrawal symptoms so that you can get back on track. With this mindset, it’s easy to view using as a reasonable form of self-medication instead of a relapse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Thinking Positive in Recovery

Physical detox clears substances out of your body, but that alone won’t keep you sober. After physical dependence has been addressed, treatment focuses on how to maintain a sober lifestyle while living substance-free. Sober living requires attention to the mental, emotional and behavioral aspects of a substance use disorder.

A form of behavioral therapy called CBT is often used to treat those recovering from addiction. According to the journal of the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, “abstinence rates may be increased with the use of CBT methods.”

Your habitual thoughts affect your health, your mental state, your emotional well-being and your behavior. CBT is used to explore the various ways that your thoughts affect your recovery. CBT can help you to replace the old, negative thought patterns so common in active addiction with positive thought patterns that support a healthy and satisfying sober lifestyle.

CBT and Learning Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress

Everyday stress is one of the most common causes of relapse. CBT can teach you new coping skills that will help you deal with stress in a healthy and effective manner.

CBT can also help you cope with the anxiety, depression, anger and emotional mood swings that make recovery so difficult. Studies published in the Psychiatric Times journal suggest that “CBT may actually help to improve a person’s neurobiological circuits in the brain.”

Length of Time in Treatment

It you’re in treatment for a substance use disorder, you can reduce the potential for relapse by completing your full course of treatment. The longer you remain in treatment, the more opportunity you’ll have to learn and establish new coping mechanisms before resuming a normal life in the real world. According to Psych Central, the length of time spent in treatment correlates with how long a recovering person is able to maintain abstinence.

The Role of Medication

Medication can help to regulate moods and reduce cravings. In many programs, medication is an essential element of a comprehensive substance use disorder treatment approach that combines pharmacological therapy with behavioral therapy.

Activities That Support the Recovery Process

Here are some examples of basic holistic activities that can help you to avoid relapse by improving your overall feelings of well-being:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eight hours of sleep
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Good nutrition
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindful meditation
  • Massage therapy

Effects of the Environment on Recovery From a Substance Use Disorder

Some environments are more supportive of long-term recovery than others. Relationships with family members can help or hinder the recovery process. Family counseling and therapy for those who have loved ones in treatment can be helpful for family members as well as for the recovering person.

Counseling sessions can help family members to develop good communication skills. Clear communication makes it easier to support the treatment goals of the family member with a substance use disorder.

During counseling, loved ones are educated about how the disease of addiction works. When family members understand what the recovering person is going through, they are better equipped to help that person cope with stress more effectively. They can also help the recovering person to avoid triggers that could lead to relapse.

The Importance of a Strong Support System

Studies show that those in recovery who have received treatment and participate in twelve-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are more likely to stay sober and remain abstinent.

Recovering people who surround themselves with others who are also in recovery receive regular healthy peer pressure and experience a sense of connection and fellowship with others. That ongoing support helps them to maintain a clean and sober lifestyle. Being part of a recovering community also helps those with a substance use disorder to avoid relapse.

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Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction

December 2nd, 2017 Posted by Awareness, Blog, Disease of Addiction, Recover, Spiritual Experience, Treatment 0 comments on “Holiday Season: High Risk for Addiction”

The holiday season, many believe, is a time to spend together and to appreciate one another. But for someone experiencing a substance abuse issue or in recovery, this time might become incredibly stressful. (more…)

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