Treatment may mark the beginning of your recovery journey, but it doesn’t end when treatment is over. Recovery is an ongoing process that needs to be nurtured through active participation and diligence. One of the best ways to practice relapse prevention is through maintaining your support group. Relapse prevention for women combined with sticking close to other women in recovery can help you recognize the stages of relapse before they progress to a dangerous point.
The Stages Of How A Relapse Happens
It may seem like a relapse is a sudden event, but like recovery, relapse is also a process. If you spend time in twelve step meetings you may hear it referred to as “relapse mode.” Relapse can happen over the course of a few weeks or even a few years. If there is no relapse prevention plan in place, things can escalate quickly.
It generally begins when the recovering addict stops doing the things that have been keeping them sober. Some examples may include attending meetings, checking in with and spending time with your support group, which usually consists of clean and sober friends and a sponsor. Perhaps you have also started neglecting self-care activities like eating and sleeping well, journaling or meditating, getting exercise or observing your spiritual practice.
This lack of self-care and participation in recovery may be the first stage, and is largely about isolation.
In addition to isolating, you may find yourself experiencing anxiety and dissatisfaction with life. If you are still attending meetings, you may find yourself bored or annoyed with them, or find reasons to get angry with the people at meetings. You may also find things to distract you from your growing feelings of discomfort, like exercise, shopping or a new relationship.
During this phase, you probably aren’t thinking of using, but the warning signs are there.
The next stage may involve a continuation of the first stage, but with increasing discomfort. Thinking may become obsessive, resentments may drive you further into isolation. Circumstances in your life may suddenly seem to become more unmanageable.
Behavior issues may arise. This could include dishonesty, unhealthy expressions of anger, impulsivity or acting out sexually. At this time, you may start thinking about using, or you may start romanticizing your using days, remembering the “good times.”
Finally, you reach the last stage before actual relapse. At this point, it is common to have completely cut yourself off from any kind of support or recovery activities. You are likely feeling a great deal of pain, anger and perhaps guilt and shame over recent behaviors. You may be hanging out in places where drugs and alcohol are being used, or you may be seeking out old using friends. You are actively thinking about using. You could be justifying your thinking by entertaining the thought that you aren’t really an addict, or that this time you can control your using. Or, you could be telling yourself that you just don’t care anymore. At this point, it won’t take much to trigger the actual relapse.
Many times, there is a trigger that precedes the actual using. This may even happen before you get too far into the third stage. Things may still look good on the outside, but inside you are a wreck. When a trigger event happens, you have no defense against your disease. Some examples of trigger events include:
- The end of a romantic relationship.
- Losing a job.
- Death of a friend or family member.
- Problems with children (custody issues, behavior issues)
- Accident, illness or injury
Experiencing stressors when you are in relapse mode can be dangerous, and this is when many relapses happen.
Usually, friends and sponsors are quick to point it out when they notice we are withdrawing, acting out or putting ourselves in dangerous situations. This is why it is so important not to isolate.
Relapse Prevention Education For Women Helps You Stay Sober For Good
Although there are usually warning signs that a person is headed for a relapse, it may still feel as though the relapse just snuck up on them out of the blue. This is because the person did not recognize the warning signs and didn’t have a plan in place to help them before things spiraled out of control. Women’s relapse prevention education can help you avoid this.
Wayside House in Florida Helps You Avoid A Relapse With Our Relapse Prevention Program
Our relapse prevention education helps clients learn to recognize the signs of relapse before they escalate. Emphasis will also be placed on maintaining active recovery, uncovering possible reservations in their program and identifying triggers.
Wayside House offers relapse prevention treatment for clients who complete our residential or intensive outpatient program. If you are interested in our program contact Wayside House at 561-278-0055 to find out about our weekly orientation or to speak to someone about our programs.