We don't instill in our participants the notion that once an addict always an addict. But, we would be remiss to say that once you find freedom, you are immune to all temptations. Relapse is possible. Statistically, the first 90 to 180 days after leaving an addiction center are the most crucial for individuals. Recognizing the signs of relapse will go far regarding treatment. We are complex humans put on this earth by our Creator. Each response to triggers will be different. But, general awareness is progressive.
The Stages of Relapse
Relapse doesn't come to light over a singular event. It evolves over a series of stages.
Maybe the first warning sign would be emotional changes. An emotional change would happen before anyone would start using again. Things to look for are a shift in moods, highly anxious, or more negative responses to everyday situations. When the emotions change so will eating and sleeping habits. Lack of sustenance will alter other states of being. But, a good indicator that someone is under emotional duress is not turning to their support system. Identifying any or some of these traits could have a crucial part to play in preventing relapse.
Mentally relapsing is the second characteristic change. Mentally relapsing includes an internal struggle. The person might question why they stopped using and ask themselves if going back to that lifestyle is something they want. At S2L, we don’t encourage our participants to believe that once an addict always an addict. In times of mental anguish, we encourage those to pause, reflect, and be reminded of the Freedom found in the Lord.
The final stage is the actual use of the substance. Whether it is drugs or alcohol, once the person has decided to use, it's only a matter of time before they do. The physical stage of using is what most people associate with "relapse." But, as you can see, there are other indicators that if addressed in time, could help someone.
Common Relapse Triggers
We could break down the triggers into two categories: internal and external. External triggers include people, places, and any activity that could spark a response. Internal triggers are complex. These triggers are emotional responses, feelings, or thoughts.
- People - From friends to family, even strangers can become a trigger. Ideally, those who are going through treatment won't engage with those they know who are using substances.
- Places - Somewhere with a strong emotional connection could be considered high risk. It could involve negative experiences while they were growing up or have some connection to them while they were using.
- Activities - Family gatherings, holidays, or celebrations are challenging for those who are going through recovery. Sometimes these events include substances which make attendance even harder.
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you." – 1 Peter 4:12
People are complex by design. Our Creator designed us this way. Internal struggles will look differently for everyone. But, some common issues transcend most individuals. Stress from work, relationships, or finances could impact the way a person walks through recovery. Assigning negative thoughts or emotions to our self-worth is another strain. Managing and tolerating negative thoughts and feelings is what faith-based recovery treatment centers, like S2L, are designed to do.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
Becoming aware of your triggers takes time. That's why support from the community at S2L is beneficial for success. External triggers can be managed through the identification of people, places, or events. Here are a few questions to ask yourself or a loved one who might be going through a relapse:
- Are you currently in a situation that makes you want to use?
- Did any new situations spark thoughts of using substances?
- Will an upcoming event or time spent with friends or family cause cravings?
You can approach internal triggers the same way. Since internal responses of emotional connection are a little more nuanced, it's encouraged to spend some time on internal reflection and prayer. At times, when we feel like we are empty, we try to fill that void with a form of idol worship.
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry." Corinthians 10:13-14
Faith-Based Recovery with S2L
S2L Recovery is a Christ-Centered rehab facility located in Middle Tennessee. We believe your addiction doesn't define you. Our curriculum is based on the idea that you do not have to be an addict for the rest of your life. Getting the help you need is the first step to success. Once you commit to S2L, we will be there with you every step of the way, offering you 24/7 support. Contact us to learn more about our curriculum.