Recovery is a journey

Rehabilitation is a complex process for those who are recovering from a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder. Individuals may have tried to stop using and detox on their own, unsuccessfully, several times before seeking inpatient or outpatient treatment for their substance use disorder. Recovery is a journey consisting of continuous healing and self-discovery – one that starts with seeking help and one that requires maintenance. Once the detoxification process is complete the physical dependence is extinguished. However, psychological urges and cravings can continue especially in reaction to triggers.

young woman smiling towards the sun

Causes for Relapse 

Some of the causes that may trigger a relapse:

People

Often addictions are associated with people who enabled bad habits, or actively participated in them. Avoiding these people can be key to success in relapse prevention however can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation until new or existing relationships are forged. At the Excel Center we emphasise the importance of creating new sober peers. The Center, Milestone House and The Good Bean Cafe are all perfect places to build friendships where you can garner positive support, be understood and attend meetings together. For more information visit our Recovery Community section.

Places

Places can be a powerful trigger as certain places cause old memories to resurface. These memories can cause underlying or dormant urges to reignite as these can be places where drugs were purchased or used. It can be very specific like a particular liquor store or bar, however sometimes even entire neighborhoods or cities can cause people to revert to old, negative habits.

Lack of Self-Care

A lack of self care can take shape in numerous ways, such as poor sleeping habits, an insufficient diet, or not getting enough exercise. All of these factors will affect mental health and reduce dopamine levels. We ensure each client has the support they need to create a healthy lifestyle and maintain positive habits.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When the body is dependent on drugs or alcohol, stopping can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, aches, and physical weakness. In certain cases withdrawal can be fatal, which is why it is essential that anyone detoxing has professional, specialist treatment. The withdrawal side effects can lead addicts to turn to substance use or alcohol to help quell the discomfort. We understand how difficult the withdrawal process is and support our clients through our individualised treatment modalities.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Anxiety, irritability, and severe mood swings are common after physical withdrawal symptoms have disappeared. This is commonly a difficult stage to persevere with, and as a result, these symptoms can lead to relapse. Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms are potentially as dangerous as withdrawal due to the fact that these symptoms can last for months. The symptoms vary from person to person and are not always easy to identify. We find that sufferers of PAWS are often unaware that they are in the midst of this stage, they are then likely to feel lost in the negative sensations without a wider perspective, and so go on to use. Specialist treatment, education and continued care are all extremely important in supporting our clients who are experiencing PAWS in order to prevent relapse.

Emotional Overwhelm

When in the midst of substance abuse an individual’s focus is concentrated on using and the world around them shrinks as a consequence. Once the substance is no longer used people may experience feelings of hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness which can in turn lead to urges to relapse. Our vibrant recovery community and positive support network encourages our clients to discover a new purpose in life and to find joy in hobbies, friendships and activities once again.

Stages of Relapse

There are three stages of relapse and recognizing these stages and warning signs can assist in relapse prevention.

  • Emotional Relapse
  • Mental Relapse
  • Physical Relapse

Emotional relapse does not mean that someone is thinking about using drugs or alcohol, but that they are experiencing thoughts that can lead to a physical relapse later on.

Signs of emotional relapse include:

  • Refusal to ask for help
  • Not seeking treatment
  • Unhealthy sleeping habits
  • Lack of a proper diet
  • Anxiety
  • Intolerance
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Defensiveness over concerns about their recovery

Mental relapse is characterized by thoughts of using. Usually the thoughts will start lightly, with faint urges to use again, but then the thoughts develop into more serious notions of drug or alcohol use.

Signs of mental relapse include:

  • Constant thoughts about using
  • Planning to relapse at a specific time or place
  • Thinking about the people, places, and things that remind them of using
  • Thinking fondly about the past
  • Lying about their emotional and mental state
  • Associating with people who use drugs

Physical relapse is the last and final stage, and if the previous stages went unidentified and were not prevented, physical relapse is usually only a phone call or a purchase away. Going from thinking often about physical relapse to actually going through with it doesn’t take long. Efforts should be focused on identifying the earlier stages of relapse and preventing it from progressing to the final stage. Through treatment we help our clients to process the issues which may have originally led them to addiction and provide them with coping strategies and skills to use in the real world. By being a part of our recovery community clients have access to educational workshops, classes and a supportive network of staff and sober peers who will support them on their journey.

Relapse Prevention

In those first two stages of relapse, emotional relapse and mental relapse, there are a number of techniques used to deal with these thoughts and prevent a physical relapse from occurring. Below are some of the prevention methods that can be practiced when negative thoughts start to arise.

Tell someone about the urges to use

Urges can seem like the most pressing, important, and persistent thing when they are experienced all alone. The moment a client talks to someone, whether it be a friend, family member, or another recovering addict, those urges can begin to dissipate. The experienced and understanding staff at The Excel Center will be able to support you in whatever way best meets your needs. We provide a safe place to help explore your thoughts and feelings without fear of judgement.

Wait 30 minutes

Recovery is a lifelong process, and sometimes people are blind to the radical progress that they have made; only because they are too focused on the distant future. The Excel Center provides various classes, activities and workshops that clients can attend alongside a network of friendly sober peers. We focus on activities which are wholesome and spiritually enriching that will keep you engaged and help create positive mental states. It is highly beneficial to simply take each day at a time. When it seems too difficult to imagine never using again, we recommend trying to not use for one day, or even trying not to use for 30 minutes. By keeping your goal and target focused on the present moment and the day ahead you will experience a level of mastery and accomplishment.

Practice self-care

One of the most important things to keep in mind during the recovery process is the well-being of the client. Nutrition, exercise, sleep and productivity will form a strong basis allowing for confidence, motivation and positivity. Through compassionate education, workshops, therapy and our recovery community, we will help our clients to build a healthy, positive lifestyle that they can maintain.

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