Relapsing, Replacement, and the All-Encompassing Nature of Addiction Recovery
During all phases of addiction recovery, relapse is a constant threat that someone has to be prepared for. It is important to develop a relapse prevention plan early in recovery, and continually assess someone’s grounding strategies and coping techniques as they navigate their changing lives in recovery. While much attention is given to the particular addiction that someone has suffered from, that doesn’t mean that it is the only threat that someone has to be aware of. Addressing relapse as a whole, as well as the different ways that relapse can manifest, can help someone achieve a healthy, sustainable lifestyle regardless of their stage of recovery.
Catching Signs of Relapse Early
Addressing relapse isn’t necessarily catching someone in the act of reengaging with an addictive substance. Relapses are things that can develop over time and there are some potential warning signs involved that can give someone a warning that they are at risk. However, it is important to note that urges and relapses are very different things and are handled differently as well. Urges are completely normal in recovery and these operate as an “in-the-moment” need to either drink alcohol or use drugs again. While these urges can be intense, they operate similar to a sprint and usually pass after a bit of time. Addressing these urges requires someone to be able to employ their grounding strategies and coping techniques quickly, and these can also be beacons of someone’s success and progress in recovery when the urge does pass.
Relapse, however, isn’t a sprint. It can be a full-on reengagement with addiction that leads someone to use drugs or alcohol on a consistent basis. It is a step back into old habits. Acknowledging signs that someone is at risk for a relapse involves looking at their methods of self-care and state of mental health. Increased anxiety, depression, or withdrawing or being unwilling to engage with their social circles are signs that someone is experiencing a particularly difficult time in their recovery. Stress-related anxieties, such as from work or interpersonal relationships, can also cause someone to begin to isolate themselves as a defense mechanism. However, this isolation leaves someone without access to their own support systems and is often the first sign that someone may be at risk for, once again, trying to self-medicate during this trying time. While these signs don’t necessarily mean that someone will definitely relapse, they are signs that someone is at a higher risk for relapse and necessitates the need for some kind of change.
The Replacement Technique
In recovery, “replacement” is the substitution of one thing for another, in order to have someone develop other positive connections related to the recovery process. In practice, whenever someone gets the feeling to begin to use drugs or alcohol again, they instead go for a jog or do some kind of activity that makes them happy. This technique operates as a reward system for not succumbing to an urge, while it also begins to program the body to want something else instead of drugs or alcohol. By connecting the feelings of urges with things that are not related to addiction, people are then able to better distance themselves from addictive substances. However, what someone is using as a replacement needs to be addressed in order to avoid developing new dependencies.
It is common for people who suffer from addiction to feel that their addiction is fairly straightforward. That is, someone is addicted to heroin and only heroin, and addressing that drug will help them achieve their desired sobriety. However, just because someone isn’t addressing other substances in addiction recovery doesn’t mean that they don’t pose their own threats. It is possible for people to continue to try to self-medicate, or otherwise make themselves feel good throughout the recovery process, all while still remaining abstinent from the original addiction. This can take the form of a person suffering from an opiate addiction relapsing on a completely new substance, such as alcohol.
Recovery Is All-Encompassing
Addressing one’s recovery isn’t so narrow as to only address their own specific addiction, even if someone thinks that a particular substance doesn’t apply to their situation. Feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation can cause someone to find new ways to try to feel better. Depending on the form that it takes, it is very possible that someone can relapse on a substance that they weren’t previously addicted to. Regardless if someone is in recovery for drugs, alcohol, gambling, or any other addictive substance, it is important to address multiple dimensions of addiction recovery. If someone who suffers from an addiction to alcohol is not informed about the various adverse effects of drugs, they may begin to see these substances as a better alternative to their current situation.
Recovery encompasses a myriad of different concerns and addressing all of them is important for having the best possible understanding of the effects of addiction. Having support groups available who can offer many different perspectives can help someone realize the various ways that relapses can manifest, and thus give a more complete picture of what their own recovery may look like.
Addiction recovery and relapse prevention are difficult topics to address. Having trained professionals and a safe, supportive environment available is paramount for establishing the necessary skills and recovery outlook necessary for a healthy, long-term recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, Brighton Recovery Center is available to help. With a core philosophy prioritizing community and inclusion, their comprehensive, six building campus has many facilities and programs ready to address your particular needs. With services from intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs to detox and residential treatment, there is something available to help you and address your needs. It also offers a recreation center, free of charge, and various modalities of therapy, including individual, group, movement, and meditation therapies. The sense of community is the heart of recovery and Brighton is constructed to constantly address the social and emotional needs of each person. For more information on how Brighton Recovery Center can help you, call today at (844) 479-7035.