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What is Drug Relapse

Drug relapse, or any kind of relapse, is a process that usually starts when an individual slips back into old behavior patterns. Defined in the dictionary as, “a deterioration in someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement,” relapse can be devastating.  Some people think that relapse begins when someone first uses drugs after being sober or quitting for a time.  However,  we know that relapse occurs much sooner than this — it just might not manifest in drug use at first.

Some tell-tale signs of relapse include: Poor sleep habits

  • Thinking about people, places, and things they used drugs with
  • Glamorizing their past use
  • Lying
  • Hanging out with previous drug using friends
  • Fantasizing about using drugs
  • Thinking about relapsing
  • Planning their relapse around other people’s schedules
  • Making poor choices
  • Anxiety
  • Intolerance
  • Anger
  • Defensiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Isolation
  • Not asking for help
  • Not going to meetings or appointments
  • Poor eating habits

After examination of the previous list, it is clear that relapse occurs in the mind before the body takes over and actually relapses to drug use.

Some factors that seem to lead to drug relapse or make it harder to fight back against the urge to do drugs  and relapse faster than an individual otherwise might include:

  1. Being bored
  2. Being around people using drugs or alcohol, places where the individual used drugs or purchased them, or being around the drug or alcohol itself
  3. Feeling that using drugs or alcohol to celebrate something is appropriate
  4. Feeling physical pain
  5. Dwelling on getting high
  6. Having a lot of cash
  7. Using prescription drugs
  8. Thinking that one no longer has to worry (complacent) about relapse or that they are past being tempted

When someone makes the choice to stop abusing drugs, they have taken the first step in drug addiction recovery. This step is the beginning of an important change in their life.They may expect that all their problems will go away once they have made the decision to quit. Unfortunately, their problems often remain with them throughout their recovery process, and sometimes things even seem harder.  Because of the difficulties associated with recovery, relapse often occurs. But thinking ahead and devising ways to handle pressures that might lead back to drug use and/or drinking can help people stay in recovery and avoid relapse.