Dealing with Addiction Relapse – ARR04

by Kevin on February 9, 2012









We focus on the dreaded topic of relapse and how you can avoid it. As with most addicts, their first, second, third and even fourth time attempting sobriety often fails because of a relapse. They either make it just a few days before 30 days clean or a few days before 60 days clean. The anxiety, stress or pull from the addiction strangles them. That’s where triggers come in to play, but you have to remain head strong and determined. There is nothing more embarrassing than a relapse, especially if you attend 12 step meetings. Imagine, taking a dirty chip? People do it often and many are called out. In the end, you are just cheating yourself. If you don’t take recovery seriously, you are just wasting everyone’s time. Luckily, the recovery circle of people understand and welcome those who relapse with open arms. However, it’s better to fight through a moment of relapse than just to give in. You have already put in all of this work to start your road to recovery and starting over, simply sucks.


relapseSo a few common factors that may lead up to a relapse is as follows:

  1. Being in the presence of drugs/alcohol or where you used to purchase them.
  2. Feelings we perceive as negative, particularly anger; also sadness, loneliness, guilt, fear, and anxiety.
  3. Positive Feelings that make you want to celebrate.
  4. Boredom.
  5. Listening to old stories about getting high.
  6. Any type of physical pain.
  7. Lot’s of money to spend.
  8. Using powerful prescription drugs (opiates/synthetics)
  9. complacency with your addiction

So the big thing to take away here is removing yourself from any opportunity that would invite the past drug/alcohol back into your life. The mere thought of past experiences may be enough for you to relapse. So, it is best to avoid the temptation entirely by removing yourself from any event in which the past would be exposed.


As the old saying goes… Every addict is different, so every treatment plan must be customized to meet the individual needs and unique challenges of the person in recovery.

relapseThis also applies in relapse as well. Everyone’s triggers/cravings/temptations are entirely different and if you have attended a treatment program, more than likely there was a plan made up for you that outlined specifics for you to avoid at all costs.  For others, there’s a lot of topics about this if you simply search google.


The important thing to take away from this writing is, your first year is the toughest. Once you hit that 90 day marker, than the 180 day marker, it get’s easier and easier. Year 1 accomplishments is a big deal and you will find that you can maintain sobriety with some simple discipline. It’s been frowned upon in most recovery programs to stay clear of relationships and such. You will know when it’s time for you to be comfortable in your sobriety to seek companionship. I would recommend it not be with a fellow person in recovery as that can open a whole new can of worms you want to avoid.

relapseSo, if you haven’t done so yet, you will need to create an action plan that will prevent you from relapsing. Here are a few items you should consider having in your plans:

  • Have a general plan – phone fellow recovers, get to a meeting, etc
  • Make a list of situations in which you have drunk/drugged in the past.
  • Make a list of the places, people and things associated with your addictive behavior.
  • Make a list of the internal feelings associated with drinking/using – depression, euphoria, anger, stress, loneliness, success, etc.
  • Identify which of these factors are present recently and at the moment and note them as warning signs.
  • List the specific warning signs which you have identified and prioritize them hierarchically.
  • Work out a series of alternative ways (not just one) which you can use to deal with each warning sign, e.g., going to the movies instead of a bar, changing your phone number to avoid past acquaintances that aren’t exactly the best influence in your life, exercising away anger, crying instead of suppressing sadness, etc. Experiment to see what works best. Some will work sometimes and others will work other times.+Let yourself have a relapse fantasy – identify where and when does it occur, who is there, how it happen, what are the feeling and emotions present and how it ends.
  • Realize that everything passes and that this feeling, mood or compulsion will disappear. Tell yourself that you do not have to act upon it, that you have choices as a human being and are not a slave to a chemical. You will be stronger as a result. Realise that millions of people face the same moods, feelings and negative thoughts, but don’t drink or drug their way out of them.
  • Don’t just think, talk or write the plan – PUT IT INTO ACTION ! Recovery doesn’t float down on a cloud, you have to take concrete actions and steps to realize it. Rehearse strategies one at a time. See yourself walking past the local bar and going to the cinema. Pick an alternative substitute and do it. Feel sad and then make yourself cry. Get angry about something and then go exercise.

By the way, I’d like to share this story i ran across because it shows that people who are trying to do right by sobriety and taking advantage of city/state sponsored programs are being victimized:

A Choice for Recovering Addicts: Relapse or Homelessness

Good luck and if you are having any struggles, please send us an email and perhaps we can help.

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