Recovering from any addiction is very difficult and the potential for relapse is always a danger. There are a number of warning signals to keep in mind when caring for a recovering addict.Recovery from addiction is a long process. It is one journey the addict is not advised to take alone. There are great resources in the community such as alcohol and addiction charities, peer meetings, addiction counselling, online forums, dry bars, and substitute medication that make that process a lot easier lessen the possibility of relapse. When an individual is ready to leave a drug or alcohol rehabilitation centre, professional therapists will have prepared the addict for an environment where support is not available 24/7 and there will constantly be a possibility of relapse.
Sometimes an addict can fool themselves into feeling they can cope without support because there is an unconscious desire to return to old behaviours. This is where friends and loved ones can be indispensible in reflecting back the reality of the situation. Some warning signs to look out for are:
- Stopping medication without consulting with the doctor. When things are going really well it is sometimes the most dangerous. The addict may in fact feel they are over the worst and can manage without prescribed medication. There maybe an element of complacency. Sub-consciously the addict could be looking for a way back to an old lifestyle. The logical and safe route is to always consult with a medical practitioner first.
- Hanging around known abusers again. Filled with a new strength the addict may mistakenly believe they are able to withstand any temptation. Professionals consider that the drug culture itself is 50% of the problem and so it is clearly a very dangerous thing to do. It’s a little like standing on a railway track blindfold to see if a train will knock you down.
- Social isolation - not taking advantage of the support network. This in itself is a cry for help. It is often helpful to visit meetings and keeping in touch with the local network with a friend, buddy or someone who understands the complexities of the problem.
- Creating unobtainable goals. Only too often recovering addicts or alcoholics are over zealous in their expectations, and create goals which are just unobtainable or in the realms of perfectionism. The result is failure and disappointment which could be a pre-cursor to a relapse. Also idle hands in a life without real routine and direction could be dangerous. The solution is to create achievable goals and create a clear healthy routine once a return to a normal everyday lifestyle is made.
- Unexpected changes in life could be danger sign. For instance, marital breakup, a sudden death or a large windfall. There is the possibility of falling back into old habits in trying to deal with something that has not been prepared for - so again it is advised seek out the support network.
- Expect others to dismiss changes On first returning from private alcohol treatment the recovering addict will have a new set of behaviours and new goals. Not everyone will welcome those changes with open arms. But there will be those who may find pleasure in mocking, tempting the recovering an addict back into old ways. Accepting this will be half the battle and it will also give the addict a clearer idea of who is true friends are.
Nick Cassells 2012