One of the best ways to avoid relapse in recovery is to stop it before it starts. Noticing when things are happening or changes occur that could signify a relapse is one of the best ways to keep it from happening. The following are seven common signs of relapse. If you notice any of these issues in your life, take steps to manage it before it becomes something serious.
- No daily schedule or structure. Having a routine helps you to accomplish everything you need to do and when you start to make changes in your life that disrupts that routine, you risk getting overwhelmed, missing out on sleep, or creating more work for yourself. Avoid this by staying away from activities that will throw your schedule out of whack.
- Isolation. When you spend more time alone than you do interacting with others, you’re more likely to rationalize a drink or get high. If no one can see you, then no one may know and if no one knows, you may not feel that you are accountable. Avoid this by building a strong support network in recovery and staying in touch.
- Stress. Work-related stress, stress from a loved one, problems in a relationship, issues at school, or internalized pressure to achieve certain things in a certain timeframe can cause you to feel overwhelmed. Stress is one of the biggest causes of relapse. Take steps to remove stressful factors from your life and keep a low-stress attitude all the time.
- Behavior changes. If you’re feeling irritable or angry with or without reason, it can be a sign of pending relapse. Recognize your own behavior changes and get them in check before relapse occurs.
- Ignoring your health. Not eating right, not getting enough sleep, working too much, not getting enough down time – all these things can cause health problems. Make an effort to take care of yourself to avoid relapse.
- Denial. If you find yourself rationalizing that ‘just one’ will be okay or that you ‘deserve’ to cut loose every once in awhile with drugs and alcohol, nip that thinking in the bud before you relapse.
- Pulling out of recovery. If you start missing 12-step meetings, cancel therapy appointments and begin to pull back from plans with sober friends, it can be a sign that a relapse is on the way. Showing up for your recovery is one of the biggest things that will keep you clean and sober. If you see these things happen, get back involved.
How do you avoid relapse? What are your signs that you may slip or relapse and how do you handle it?