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Why do addicts relapse when things are good?

Why do addicts relapse when things are good? Drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness of the brain characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite the enormous harmful consequences.

Addiction Relapse Syndrome & How to overcome a relapse

Why do addicts relapse when things are good? Drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic relapsing illness of the brain characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite the enormous harmful consequences.

While it is possible to recover and change negative patterns, the best way to prevent a relapse is by accepting the risk while being aware of the so-called relapse syndrome.

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What is a relapse?

relapse is defined as a return to behavior and thought patterns typical of active addiction which had already been overcome (i.e., substance abuse withdrawal). It leads to returning to using harmful addictive substances or returning to the state before recovery.

Relapses can be part of the recovery process:

1. Relapsing is not necessarily a failure in treatment but in learning to cope with the triggers leading to using again.

2. A relapse can also be a warning that something is not working. The relapse indicates that the person needs more help to overcome their addiction. 

After a relapse, some people can experience negative feelings, low self-esteem. They may even feel that sobriety is not for them. Understanding relapse is a part of the healing process. It is crucial to keep motivated and avoid bad feelings. Understanding relapse can help avoid this becoming a barrier to getting back to treatment following any regression.

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Why do addicts relapse?

Addiction is an obsession pattern that has been present in the brain for a long time and can involve chemical dependency, becoming challenging to delete permanently.

Recovering from addiction involves changing deeply ingrained behaviors and long-term habits. It is a challenging process, and sometimes people might find unexpected stressors that can trigger old patterns.

While our behavior can change and overcome it, the recovery process is a life choice that we need to remember every day.

Some common triggers for relapse are:

  1. Overwhelming stress
  2. People or places connected to the addictive behavior.
  3. Seeing or sensing the object of your addiction.
  4. Prolonged symptoms of withdrawal, even after detox.
  5. Negative, overwhelming emotions, like grief or anger.
  6. Physical health issues, especially ones are leading to chronic pain.
  7. Celebrations or holidays.

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What is the relapse process?

Usually, the relapse process is made up of risky decisions that the individual makes, and connected build the path of relapse. These so-called “relative risk” decisions seem unimportant at the moment. Still, their effect is cumulative and leads the person to reach their limits and find themselves in a point impossible to resist consumption.

The term “line of no return” represents the limit in which the person finds it impossible to stop substance-seeking behavior. Therefore, its use is imminent. The relapse process is all the circumstances and decisions that lead the person to that breaking point.

It is essential to notice that once the “line of no return” has been crossed, the person is having a relapse even if it wasn’t had the opportunity to consume.  

Symptoms of a relapse

  • Increased irritability and/or resentment, especially with his close circle.
  • Floating feelings of depression and anxiety that are not necessarily related to any external event.
  • Insomnia and restlessness.
  • Return to obsessive thinking about substance use.
  • Repetitive concerns about the personal physical image or money.
  • Isolation.
  • Risk behavior related to the recovery process, like returning to risky places or contacting negative people.
  • Neglecting the recovery plan by not attending meetings, missing visits with the therapist, failing to comply with the daily routine schedule, etc.
  • Defensive attitude when discussing your treatment and recovery.

Relapse can be a challenging situation that you can overcome with proper help and assistance. Remember that it is a part of the process. Overcoming a relapse is possible, and it doesn’t mean you have to stop your rehabilitation. It only means you need more help to continue.

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