6 Stages of Relapse into Addiction – and how to not pick up again

6 Stages of Relapse into Addiction – and how to not pick up again


Hi, my name’s Doug, I’m one of the counsellors
at Hope Rehab in Thailand. Today I’m going to talk to you a little
bit about relapse. People seem to think that relapse just happens,
it’s an event, no explanation for it. You ask somebody who’s relapsed, I don’t
know what happened, it just happened. I found myself there and all of a sudden I
was back in it. Thankfully that’s not how we see it and
there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that relapse is actually a process. It’s a process that can start with us not recognising
or being able to deal with our emotions. Hopefully, while in treatment, you should
have been given plenty of strategies and ways to deal with stuff but sometimes in real life
it can become a little overwhelming. If we don’t start dealing with our emotions and what’s
actually going on, that can then morph into denial. Not denial that we’re an addict, we’ve
been to treatment, we’ve probably got years of proof that we’re an addict. But we start denying that we’re feeling
unwell, that we’re not feeling great. We start denying that we’re stressed, and
we start denying that we’re feeling unable to cope. When we start denying that stuff, we haven’t
had a drink yet, so we haven’t relapsed. We’re still in recovery, but some of those
old denial patterns are starting to come up again, and we’re using them for our emotions. Then, we might be able to notice that we’re
displaying some compulsive behaviours. Maybe we’re dieting excessively, or exercising
excessively, or getting into promiscuous or unhealthy relationships. We’re doing all sorts of things that actually
take us away from our feelings. We do things that will fill that need within
us to feel good, but not actually doing the work that we need to do, which is about dealing
with what’s going on. Then through that, what can happen is the
triggers that normally, when we’re working a programme and doing well and being honest
and sharing how we’re feeling, and when a trigger comes up,
you deal with it. And it’s not difficult to deal with, and
it’s just one of those things that in recovery, you have to deal with, and you learn to deal
with, and you’re okay dealing with. But when you’re not in a good place, those
triggers can then be really powerful, and far more powerful than they need to be. It can be something as innocuous as something
on the TV, or something somebody says, or a smell. Suddenly, bang, you’re right back in there,
and that can manifest as interior chaos. You’re running around inside, you’ve got
all sorts of issues going on but you’re not telling anybody about it. Your problems start to mount up, you solve
one, two more come up. That kind of feeling then becomes external,
and you can find yourself arguing with family, becoming resentful, becoming resentful towards
your programme, becoming resentful towards recovery. You start thinking that recovery is hard work
and I’m not getting anything out of it, and that can lead into a feeling of a loss
of control. You’re unable to deal with what’s going
on, you’re still not talking to anybody about what’s going on, you move further
away from support groups and your support network, becoming more resentful. That addictive thinking starts coming back
in. We start thinking about our using friends
and acquaintances, about going to visit them. Not because they were using, but because they
were fun. We start tricking ourselves again in justifying
and rationalising. Then we can find ourselves going back to our
dealer’s house or walking past our favourite bar or off-licence with £50 in our wallet when all
we wanted to do was go out and buy a chocolate. So you’ve got to start noticing these things. We find ourselves in high risk situations,
we start going to parties and places we know will trigger us in the belief that we’ll
be okay. So all this leads to a point where your recovery
is hard work, and you’re getting fed up with it, you can’t see the point in it,
you’re miserable. Once you get to that point, certain things
are going to happen. You either reach out, ask for help, talk to
your support network and get yourself back on track, or you pick up. Because that’s one of the good things about
it being a process rather than just an event. If you’re able to recognise, and you have
the awareness and ability to recognise when things are off key, when things are not going
the way you would have hoped, when your feelings aren’t great, when you’re not being honest
with yourself. If you can be honest with yourself and
recognise that, that then gives you an opportunity to do something about it. That’s when you phone your sponsor, or you
contact your support network. That’s when you reach out for help from
the people around you who are going to help you get back on track, and back into working
your recovery for you. Because otherwise, you end up picking up,
and then you’re back on the rodeo. You’re back in all the misery and the chaos
and the lying and the deceit, except this time it will be ten times worse, because you
also have a head full of recovery. A head full of recovery and a relapse is probably
one of the most excruciating things you’ll ever go through, and I hope you don’t have to. Thanks very much. This is Doug from Hope, and I hope this has
been helpful today.

One comment

  1. I'm feeling irritated and more uncomfortable with people and I have recognised this is the beginning of a relapse and I don't know what to do. I'm on methadone

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