Many recovering people as well as their family or circle of support tend to believe that if one is in abstinence or stopping a bad habit, his recovery is fine. This is a mistake. The relapse syndrome and process start even long before the addicted person begins using! Remember that addiction or any bad habit operates silently within you. The symptoms of an addictive disease do not stop with abstinence. So, for a certain period of time, a recovering person may not be aware of the progression of relapse because it’s taking place subconsciously.
One patient, David, nearly lost his family because of his shabu and alcohol use. He went into treatment, doing personal psychotherapy and 12 step groups, when his wife and children moved out of the house. They only agreed to return when David agreed to get treatment. For months, he was restless and irritable. He began smoking and drinking coffee heavily, and has since engaged in gambling regularly via the Internet. His wife discovered that David is seldom around and has left again.
David’s is a case of “cross addiction,” one of the warning signs of relapse. Cross addiction to “acceptable legal drugs” such as nicotine, caffeine, or e-gambling, allows the process of relapse – dysfunction in sobriety and abstinence – to take its course. When this progresses, it may be a matter of time before an acute relapse episode occurs. This is the not-so-obvious side of the disease. The abstinence-based side of the disease can be as destructive as the drug-use-based side. And you are even more helpless when the relapse occurs because it’s a generally misunderstood and unrecognized aspect of recovery.
Now if you know how to spot the relapse progression even during sobriety, you can take steps to interrupt it. Constructive rather than destructive options are available. And when you get into this direction, you’ll recognize that you do have choices. According to clinical rehabilitation and addictionology research, there are common abstinence-based relapse warning signs to watch out for.
Here below are some of them:
* increased stress
* change in thinking and feelings and behaviors
* worrying about my self
* denying that I’m stressed and worried
* avoidance and defensiveness
* not putting enough energy into my recovery
* more concerned about the sobriety of others than about my personal recovery
* cross addictions like smoking, eating, gambling, money spending etc
* controlling conversations by talking too much
* “playing therapist” but reluctant to talk about own personal struggles and problems
* making excuses and blaming others for problems
* compulsive about being alone or making excuses to stay away from other people
* loss of constructive planning
* daydreaming and wishful thinking
* exaggerating small problems and blowing them out of proportion
* immature perceptions about being happy
* difficulty in managing emotions
* irregular attendance at therapy and group sessions
* strained relationships with family and friends
* irregular eating habits, difficulty sleeping restfully
* loss of daily structure
* periods of depression
* “I don’t care” attitude
* open rejection of help
* conscious lying
* loss of self confidence
* short term binge or attempted use of chosen “drugs”