An addiction is a relapsing disorder, meaning that even after a long period of sobriety, an individual may still have the urge to use drugs or alcohol. A relapse causes immense physical, emotional, and financial pain and breaks relationships.
What Causes a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Relapse
It’s discouraging to feel like you’re starting from square one, but understanding the causes of relapse will help you better prepare for future challenges. The Anchor Addiction and Wellness Center team recommends finding professional services to navigate relapse. What causes it?
Stress causes the mind to look for familiar comfort. Stressful situations include the death of a loved one, relationship issues, financial hardships, or job loss. When under stress, your amygdala, the part of the brain that governs fear and emotions, activates.
Stress floods the body with hormones like cortisol, which cause a desire for drugs and alcohol. The brain then associates the pleasure of using with relief from stress or anxiety, making it even more challenging to stay sober.
Negative Thinking Patterns
Negative thinking patterns cause you to be pessimistic, demoralizing your progress. This behavior contributes to the feeling that you are not worthy of recovery. Negativity can lead to increased stress, making a relapse seem like the only option. To reduce relapse risk, practice positive thinking and affirmations. Believe that you can stay sober and reach your goals. Find encouraging, positive people to help you stay motivated and on the right path.
The places and people you associate with when using drugs or alcohol can trigger a relapse. Spending time in an environment that triggers memories of your past behavior leads to cravings and temptations. At first, it’s a harmless action meant to draw others out of the vice, but it quickly leads to relapse.
To prevent this, avoid triggers and focus on the people or activities that make you feel your best. You’ll have to cut ties with people who are still actively using drugs or alcohol. It doesn’t mean you isolate yourself completely; just set clear boundaries and avoid people or places that may trigger the urge.
Lack of Support
Having support is crucial for long-term recovery. Getting someone you can talk to when times get tough is helpful. If you’re lonely or have negative thoughts, reach out to your network and be honest about your feelings. People who understand what you’re going through will help you stay on track and avoid relapse.
Also, apart from the addiction, you might have to deal with financial, legal, physical, and mental health issues. It’s not easy rebuilding your life, but having proper support is crucial.
Trauma is any event that causes physical, emotional, or psychological harm. Trauma can be a significant source of stress and is often associated with addiction and relapse. If you have not dealt with the trauma from your past, do so now. Addressing trauma enables you to process emotions, gain insight into the cause, and develop healthier coping strategies.
It may also take some time before society accepts and treats you normally. People may not understand your condition, but don’t give up. Stay patient, strong, and determined to continue in your journey. Remember that relapse isn’t a sign of failure—it’s an opportunity to learn and grow. With the right mindset and support, you’ll achieve long-term sobriety.
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