Natural Disasters Can Trigger Relapse

Natural disasters, such as the recent flooding in Houston, Texas, can be devastating and can lead individuals in recovery to relapse. Many people may experience serious stress during a natural disaster as well as in the aftermath which can evolve into an anxiety disorder known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When individuals have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction, the combination of PTSD and stress is one of the most common causes for relapse. Further, experiencing PTSD due to natural disasters or otherwise, can often trigger first time drug or alcohol use or an increase in drug and alcohol use in current users.

Due to the fact that individuals who have struggled with addiction in the past may be extra sensitive to stress, they are more prone to cope with the stress of a natural disaster with drugs and/or alcohol as a coping method. Drug cravings are shown to increase with stress as well. Further, stress due to a natural disaster can cause depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even nightmares. Thus, those battling drug addiction have a much higher potential to relapse in an attempt to suppress stress or other emotional troubles associate with natural disasters.

Fear and depression have also been shown to increase when natural disasters strike. For former drug addicts, drugs and alcohol are often used to numb the feeling associated with or to cope with the loss of control, overwhelming stress, or despair associated with fear and depression.

Awareness of the possibility of relapse and the factors of fear, depression, and PTSD that can lead to a possible relapse are key in staying in healthy recovery during a natural disaster. Also, reaching out for support from loved ones who were not affected by the natural disaster can also sustain individuals dealing with recovery from drug/alcohol addiction.

Watch for Relapse

 

Addiction recovery generally doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, recovery us often a very long process which includes both successes and set backs. Relapse is very common, with around 40-60% of individuals that struggle with addiction sliding back into drug use (nida.org). However, there are 40-60% who also don’t relapse. This number is encouraging and focusing on the things one can do to identify and prevent relapse is key. Learning the signs of an impending relapse can help to steer individuals clear of it at the first sign of trouble.

 

SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has recommended that individuals in recovery make note of behaviors, triggers, or thoughts that have led to relapse or desire to relapse in the past. For instance, they recommend that individuals ask themselves questions similar to: How did you feel just before you had a hard time in the past or when you noticed that your habits or routines changed? or How do you feel when you know you are not feeling quite right?

 

Common signs of relapse include: anxiety, nervousness, forgetfulness, inability to experience pleasure, feeling slowed down or speeded up, avoiding others or isolating, being obsessed with something that doesn’t really matter, lack of motivation, displaying of irrational thought patterns, being uncaring, increased irritability and negativity, feeling disconnected from one’s body, missing appointments or being late to appointments, restlessness, more or less appetite. Obviously, not all of these things need be experienced to be at risk for a relapse. Even a single experience or thought can trigger a relapse. Others may not experience relapse until they have experienced several of the above mentioned experiences. However, if any of the early warning signs have been experienced, it’s important not to ignore them. Often, in rehab, individuals have a “tool kit” that they can go to or an individual they’ve been assigned to talk to if they are experiencing these symptoms these tools should be used! Relaxation exercises, journaling, reaching out to a counselor or trusted friend, or participating in an enjoyed activity for at least an hour a day, can also help in avoiding relapse. If you have any of these early warning signs, it’s important that you don’t ignore them.

AvoidingHolidayRelapseDrug Rehab During the Holidays? 5 Reasons

There are many reasons why checking a loved one into a drug rehab facility is a good idea. However, research points to 5 reasons why admitting your loved one to a drug rehab facility during the holidays is the perfect time.

  1. Even though families often feel that being around loved ones for the holidays will help individuals struggling with addictions, in fact, the opposite is true. The holidays can be filled with financial and emotional weight, stress, and risks of overdose or even suicide due to hopelessness. This is the number one reason to get help for your loved one and place them in a safe drug rehab facility during the holidays where that stress can be lifted.
  2. Second, oddly enough, the cold weather often turns individuals to their addiction for comfort from the cold and bleak winter days. This can intensify addictions and cravings and make life seem more miserable when the sun isn’t shining!
  3. Third, with breaks from work and school, there is more free time on hand during the holidays. And, as many of us have experienced, too much free time often leads to destructive habits/behaviors. It can also lend time to more dwelling on negative thoughts as well.
  4. Most people are aware that holiday family gatherings can take a toll on individuals with addictions. Memories, stress, expectations, and other events and emotions are bound to arise and can hurt a struggling addict. So fourth, being in a facility where family can visit when the addict is up to a visit is a better solution during the holidays.
  5. Fifth, sometimes knowing that your loved one who is struggling with addiction is in a safe caring environment can give you and others affected by the addiction time to heal and recover yourself. That way, when the addict leaves the drug rehab facility you can be in a healthier place to aid in their recovery. Having time with friends and family during the holidays while your loved one is safe in drug rehab and without the stress of taking care of an addict can be healing for many families and individuals.

 

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