Saturday, January 27, 2007

How Not To Relapse into Your Addiction

According to statistics in the United States, 74% of recovering people relapse. No matter what your addiction is, there will be points in time when you will have the tendency to relapse into your addiction.

One advice I got from one member is to achieve a solid, well-balanced recovery. Maintaining mental, emotional, spiritual and physical balance in one’s life is very important. If you do not pay attention to one of these areas, an addict may eventually relapse.

Memorize the acronym HALT. HALT means hungry, angry, lonely and tired. When one or two of these conditions are present in a recovering addict, there is great probability for that person to relapse.

A phenomenon, post-acute withdrawal (PAW, otherwise known as withdrawal symptom) is the long-term effect of the neurological damage caused by mood altering chemicals. This effect can last up to 18 months into recovery. Contrary to what many believe, PAW is still experienced by recovering addicts even after a year of recovery.

There is direct connection between stress and PAW. Stress intensifies PAW and PAW intensifies stress. This mutual connection means the recovering addict can spiral down in his thinking and emotion and may lead to negative behaviors or negative ways to handle stress. These thoughts and feelings the person is engaging in become relapse warning signs.

An awareness of the warning signs is necessary for the recovering person to disrupt the tendency to relapse. Relapse is a gradual process that begins with distorted thoughts, unmanageable feelings, and dysfunctional behavior. Warning signs start small and increase in intensity as the relapse syndrome progresses. Warning signs include: mood swings, high stress, depression, irritability, isolation, etc. Because the warning signs progress gradually, the recovering addict should recognize his relapse warning signs so he won't relapse.

To avoid relapsing into your addiction, develop a balanced and healthy lifestyle. You can incorporate some of the suggested strategies below into your daily living:

  • Maintain healthy diet and sufficient rest
  • Regular exercise – to help maintain good mental, emotional, and physical health
  • Spend time engaging in some spiritual activity, journaling, meditating, relaxation, reading, etc. Having this blog is my way of journaling my daily struggles.
  • Set boundaries and know your limitations. If you are alcoholic, don't go to bars, pubs, karaoke or store alcoholic drinks in your ref.
  • Set goals – realistic, attainable. Live one day at a time.
  • Utilize effective stress management techniques

A recovering addict can avoid relapsing if the person recognizes the warning signs before they go out of control.