The Top 3 Signs the Addict You Love Is on the Verge of Relapse
When a person you adore and cherish succumbs to drug addiction, it can turn your life into a nightmare just as surely as it threatens to destroy hers. But when she finally gets clean and sober and you are convinced that this time she is determined to make it stick, the sense of joy and relief you feel can send your spirits soaring into the stratosphere.
However, with recovering addicts there is always a dark cloud lurking just over the horizon. No matter how firm and committed to sobriety an addict may seem, the risk of relapse is always real and present and powerful. Relapse is discouragingly common among recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, and it is a hazard that will accompany your loved one for the rest of her life.
This will be especially true in the first six months or so of her recovery process, when her vulnerability to relapse is at its highest. But despite the perpetual presence of that risk, the situation is far from hopeless, and you as a spouse, parent, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandparent or close friend have a valuable role to play in helping that person you cherish stay on the straight and narrow.
When relapse is imminent, there are always signs that will give it away. The people closest to an addict in peril are in the perfect position to spot those signs and issue a warning before it is too late. Of course, there is no guarantee the recovering addict will listen, since the white noise of addiction can at times drown out the earnest pleading of desperate loved ones. But the chances are good that she will listen and take you seriously, and that is why your involvement could be vital if the recovering addict you care about finds herself in a dangerous state of being.
There are a number of indicators that could mean relapse is close at hand. But here are the three that you should stay on the watch for, since all are quite common and all mean that trouble is waiting right around the next corner:
The addict has started to hang out with all of her old “friends” again: When we use the word “friends” here, we are using it very loosely. When recovering addicts encounter others in recovery during peer group sessions, the influence of these social interactions is almost always positive. But when an addict who is sincerely trying to change falls in with old traveling companions who are still drinking or using, the strength of their negative influence can be overwhelming and can quickly send the sober addict spiraling back into self-destruction.
And when this situation arises, we also have to ask why the person we care about is suddenly hanging out with people she knows from experience are bad news? Could it be a sign that she is close to the edge and in danger of plunging off the cliff at any moment? The answer to these questions could very well be yes, and that is why we should never be sanguine about the presence of actively practicing addicts in the lives of the recovering addicts we love.
She is going through a stressful situation or has begun to express negative feelings on a regular basis: We all go through ups and downs in our lives, regardless of our circumstances. They are unavoidable and can test our resiliency right to the final limit. But how we cope with those feelings varies from person to person, and needless to say the way the recovering addict has traditionally coped is the very definition of unhealthy and self-destructive. Like any disease, addiction can flare up when we are in a vulnerable state, and the newly recovering addict has a long distance to travel before she learns how to cope with anxiety, sadness, depression, fear, loneliness or guilt in a sensible and productive way.
Putting it simply, a recovering addict swept up in negativity is an addict in extreme danger, and the sooner her loved ones step in to offer their understanding and assistance the better off she will be.
The addict has become complacent, overconfident or caught up in denial about the severity of her drug or alcohol problem: In general, a recovering addict must learn to relax and meet her challenges in a calm and stoic manner. But she must never lose sight of just how treacherous and threatening her drug or alcohol habit truly is.
The moment you hear her trying to minimize her problems, expressing her conviction that they are in the past or denying how out of control her behavior had been before she got clean and sober, you as a friend or family member need to cut her off immediately. Not with harshness or judgment, but firmly and authoritatively as you take her by the hand and look her straight in the eye.
When addicts in recovery start to downplay the severity of their issues, it is really their addiction talking, making up rationalizations that it can use to sneak back in to cause more disaster. If you give the voice of that addiction an inch, it will take a mile – so don’t give it an inch!
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