relapse-awareness

Awareness Will Minimise A Relapse

Articles, Australia, International, Understanding Addiction

Those people who are going through treatment and recovery for an addiction to alcohol or drugs will be acutely aware of how easy it is to relapse.

Their counselling sessions will have hammered the message home in a strong and determined fashion. This is in the hope that a relapse and subsequent return to drug use or heavy drinking is something that can be avoided.

Here are some major aids and things to avoid for those going through recovery:

HALT

This acronym is commonly used to help remind those on the road to recovery that defences are at their weakest when Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.

While thoughts and cravings for just a ‘little’ of the drug or drink they are missing will suddenly come into a person’s mind it is at the end of the day when they are most vulnerable. This is due to a combination of:

  • Hungry – The chances are that while your diet is improving, you are still not eating that well.
  • Angry – Perhaps work colleagues have annoyed you, acquaintances wound you up or a journey back home has taken far longer than expected. While your ability and reasoning are improving as progress is made it is still fairly fragile. This means you are likely to feel aggrieved far more easily.
  • Lonely – Feelings of loneliness are a major issue for those on the road to recovery. Isolation is often something that is felt and is totally understandable. Your routine will have changed quite markedly from when you were on the drug and/or drink trail. It is also important to understand that you do not have to be physically alone to feel lonely.
  • Tired – It is very understandable that the stresses and strain of the day will leave a person in recovery feeling tired.

No matter how strong the urge to drift back to your substance of choice is this needs to be resisted. Think positively, consider the excellent progress that has been made to date and the continued improvements you are striving for.

High risk avoidance:

It would be foolish to tell someone going through recovery that they must always avoid high risk situations, but if they are aware of things that leave them most vulnerable they can minimise their chances of being put in such a situation.

It will also make them far more conscious that if they find themselves in such a situation that the priority is to move away from it as quickly as possible.

Here are 3 high risk issues to avoid wherever possible:

People with a negative influence:

In terms of drugs, this obviously includes dealers who you will have met on a regular basis. It is important to avoid any contact with these people. Many will have little sympathy for your efforts to kick a habit, indeed, they could well see it as a lucrative cash avenue closed and do their best to reopen it through persuasion and special deals. Avoiding contact means avoiding temptation.

It is important to avoid socialising with anyone you previously used drugs with and who are still actively using. Those recovering from alcohol abuse must avoid their ex-session partners and anyone else they regularly drank to excess with.

In terms of both alcohol or drug recovery it is important to avoid anyone you have a conflict with. Getting yourself wound-up will do far more harm to the recovery process than good.

Places:

Keep away from drug dens, homes of other users and anywhere else you regularly spent time taking drugs. If it is alcohol then avoid your favourite watering holes, anyone’s home where drink is regularly on the menu, and make sure there is no alcohol in your home.

Paraphernalia:

This ‘avoidance’ may seem unimportant, but it is another potential key trigger that can lead those going through recovery to slip back into their old ways.

In terms of alcohol it could be a favourite bottle opener, shot glass or drinking vessel. Those trying to kick drugs need to get rid of their glass bowls, pipes, ‘serving’ equipment and anything else that reminds them of use.

Recovery is not one major change:

It is important that those going through recovery recognise that this is not about one major change. It is about lots of little changes.

These small improvements and the fact that you have avoided a potentially tempting situation should be seen as significant victories in your battle to beat addiction. Repeated victories will see you go from strength to strength on the road to recovery.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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