Relapse awareness work is a fundamental part of early recovery in-order to ensure you remain abstinent — once you have made that commitment.
This involves finding new ways of taking care of your self, developing new approaches to life and new ways of thinking and behaving, especially socially and finding alternative ways to cope with difficult situations.
Some peoples Life-style’s, especially those whose working and using lives are linked, will have the added challenge of conducting there affairs without using alcohol to achieve their goals.
Relapse prevention means being creative in order to stay abstinent
Have you ever told yourself ‘just this once’- ‘just one more time’?
Although Lapse/Relapse is an ‘occupational hazard’ for Alcoholics/Addicts, it’s not a requirement and it’s preventable. We say ‘One is too many and a thousands never enough’ there is no way of guaranteeing when you will stop again.
Learn to identify your Risks, warning signs and triggers. The quicker you recognise activating events, the sooner you can take evasive action.
CBT approach, ABC — Activating event triggering the irrational thought processes (beliefs) leading in turn to old behaviour…Drinking/Using
Relapse is a process that often begins well in advance of the final act of using. People who relapse can usually point back to things that they thought and did before they used.
Each persons relapse factors are unique to them but there are many common factors too.
Relapse can happen due to external factors however also without outside influences, known as internal triggers
- What are your external or outside triggers? Flights-Hotels
- What are your internal (emotional) triggers? Associations
Relapse triggers are usually caused by a combination of both internal and external factors.
There are also conscious triggers that we are aware of and there are unconscious triggers (hidden), we are not always aware of.
We work in groups, identifying with each other, to unravel our past using history and what our unconscious and conscious triggers are?
An obvious trigger may be going into a bar or hanging out with friends who drink. However it can also be subtle like hearing a particular song on the radio or seeing a photo in a picture album that triggers an emotional response. The obvious triggers in relapse prevention can be avoided, most of the time. The not so obvious triggers must be dealt with as they arise.
- Give examples (situations) of possible unconscious triggers?
The relapse sequence includes an activating event, followed by automatic thoughts, feelings and then using thoughts. Once cravings occurred, both physical and mental, then you may start to have permission thoughts that tend to “justify or rationalize” that it is somehow Okay to take a drink or use drugs.
Substituting the permission thoughts with non-permission thoughts also helps derail the relapse progression.
- What is your personal recovery mantra?
E.g. “It’s perfectly natural for me to have using thoughts however I don’t have to act out on them today”
Thought-stopping and taking an inventory of what is to gain and what is to lose also helps prevent relapse.
- For each possible using thought give an example of a counter (Healthy) thought?
I.e. Sobriety is boring…what am I not doing…more will be revealed
In early recovery using dreams are common and can remind us how the reality of drinking and using has caused many problems in our lives. That no matter how bad things get, the benefits of staying clean will far outweigh any short term relief that might be found in drugs or alcohol.
Consider the following information to help you prepare before you leave:
- Approximately 2/3 of all relapses for any addiction occur within the first 90 days.
- During the first 90 days after withdrawing from alcohol or drugs you may experience some periods of poor memory or concentration, or they may overreact to stress.
- The longer a person is abstinent, the better these things will get, but handling stress as it comes up is an important way to prevent relapse. Not coping with stress is a major risk factor.
Triggers and High Risk Situations; People – places – things
- Hanging around old drinking haunts – Seeking out the company of old drinking/using friends
- Keeping alcohol – drugs – paraphernalia around the house
- Feelings we perceive as negative anger – loneliness – anxiety
- Positive feelings we often want to enhance
- Positive feelings – wanting to celebrate – enhance feeling good.
- Physical pain – illness — medication
- Listening to war stories – Euphoric recall -glorifying using
- Relationship difficulties – ongoing conflicts
- Having a partner who still uses
- Setting unrealistic goals – perfectionism – being too hard on ourselves- Being over-critical generally
- Trying to quickly catch up on lost time
- Dwelling on resentments – past hurts
- Major life changes – loss – grief – difficult emotions
- Sleep disturbances – insomnia
- Denial – I stop telling others what I’m thinking/feeling and start trying to convince myself /others that everything is OK when in fact it is not
- Isolating – not attending meetings – not using support networks
- Feeling overconfident – that you no longer need support and can do it alone—complacency
- The fuck its….
- Stopping doing the things that have helped us stay sober so far
- Not having any structure during our week
- Testing oneself, i.e. deliberately putting oneself in a dangerous situation to test resolve or will power.
- Not taking proper care of oneself, eating, washing etc.
- Taking oneself too seriously
- Visiting old haunts/areas associated with our drinking/using
Attitudes (stinking thinking)
- SOBRIETY OR RECOVERY IS BORING….
- I’M NOT AS BAD AS THEM…..
- MY PROBLEMS CAN’T BE SOLVED….
- I DON’T CARE…
- I CAN’T CHANGE THE WAY I THINK…
- IF I MOVE, EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE….
- I NEED MY OLD FRIENDS….
- IT WILL BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME…
- NOBODY NEEDS TO KNOW….
- I’M DEPRESSED…
- I CAN HANDLE IT….
- I CAN’T DO LIFE WITHOUT IT…..