cat=5 Relapse: Prevention, Symptoms, and Recovery
December 11, 2008 by Emily Battaglia “The lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, then becomes a host, and then a master.” -Kahlil Gibran This phrase from 19th century poet Kahlil Gibran resonates with anyone who has struggled with substance abuse. One of the most difficult experiences that a recovering addict can go through is a relapse into drug and/or alcohol abuse. Very often, relapse involves an attack of a sort of nostalgia – a longing for the familiar short-term comfort of a drug hit or an alcoholic drink, regardless of longterm consequences. This craving for comfort and solace through relapse into substance abuse most often stems from elevated levels of stress and the recovering addict’s inability to cope with them. There are steps that recovering individuals can take to help prevent relapse. It is important for a recovering addict and those in her support network to recognize common symptoms of an impending relapse. These symptoms may include: • Dishonesty – unnecessary little lies, evasiveness to the questions of friends and family, rationalizations of certain behaviors, breaking promises, making excuses. • Restlessness – impatience, frustration with self or others, need for immediate gratification. • Argumentativeness – creating negative situations to provide justification for a relapse; breaking down important supportive bonds with friends and family; provoking arguments to release anger and frustration on those who don’t really deserve it. • Denial/Arrogance – acting like recovery isn’t really necessary; claiming to be recovered without really completing the process; believing that one drink or one hit at this point wouldn’t be a big deal; trying to prove that the problem is “fixed”; testing yourself by drinking or doing drugs “just a little”; believing that you’re the master of your addiction now and you can control it. • Complacency – relaxing healthy routines and habits that have been learned in recovery; returning to other forms of self-destructive behavior such as overeating; neglecting self-help meetings or other healthy activities like exercise and hobbies; taking recovery for granted. • Expectations – wanting others to immediately change and offer acceptance because you are in recovery; looking to others for validation or approval of the recovery choices you are making. Even without a relapse, most individuals in recovery have some idea about the situations and people that influence them to use. One of the most effective steps to preventing relapse is simply to identify those triggers and avoid them. Part of recovery is a process called “rehabituation,” which simply means learning new habits. Recovery usually involves a full-scale overhaul of one’s life. Recovering addicts typically lose some friends (the ones with whom they used substances) and gain new ones (fellow recoverers). They also stop spending time in certain places or engaging in certain activities, where they were accustomed to drinking or using drugs. Making the decision to stop associating with people, places, and activities that encourage substance abuse is a crucial step in recovery.

but thank you. I always thought I knew so much (like everything) and found out how little I knew. I never would I have thought I would be alive to go to college. One night I had a wreck.” http://alcoholism. A Full-Blown Addict I then started to smoke pot and then taking pills. I relapsed after rehab. The good news about relapse is that. community volunteering. I loved it. I walked through for all the wrong reasons. My mother found out I was on drugs and sent me to rehab. Something just clicked inside of me. and have a plan for dealing with that stress. If it worked for me it can work for you! When I walked through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1991. I Can Make It Finally something in me just could not take it anymore. I no longer felt the bad feelings I once did. . The cocaine addiction got worse. but with God helping me I believe and have hope that I can make it through this hard life. while not recommended. but I needed it. can go a long way toward relieving stress and maintaining a healthy outlook. I had good friends and I went to church all the time. I have been sober now for three months. She didn't like the size I was. I began to hate it. Individuals in recovery should be aware of the sources of stress in their lives. meditation. counseling. so I went to an AA meeting. I was always a good little girl. even simple “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.htm Sarah T's Recovery Story I grew up without a dad. just not skinny. for giving me life. Me and my mother didn't get along too well. massage. A relapse gives an individual in recovery the opportunity to identify the specific circumstances and influences which triggered the event and take steps to avoid them in the future. I am now only 18 years old and about to start college. I was not fat. She always wanted me to be someone I was not. I sold many things to get cocaine. Recovering individuals should identify stress reduction activities that work for them and engage in them when stress levels reach dangerous heights.about. Exercise. artistic or creative hobbies. dear Lord. The pain and regret that a recovering individual may suffer as the result of a relapse is constructive if it deepens his understanding of his addiction and helps him progress toward successful recovery. and more. it can be one of the most valuable and informative experiences that a recovering addict can have. So did the drinking. I loved it. I went on a church trip once and there I tasted alcohol for the first time. I still have a lot of work to do and I still have a long path ahead.Another important aspect of avoiding relapse is stress management. In the words of Kahlil Gibran. journaling. Before long I was a full blown cocaine addict. Other popular stress management techniques include breathing exercises. I guess that got to me more than I thought. It made me numb and all of the things I use to worry about no longer mattered.

chronic and fatal. weeks. progressive. Nine Months in Jail Things got worse and for the next three years I spent alot of time in and out of jail. Somehow I managed to graduate from a Catholic school (which my mother sent me to after the death of my brother who died from an overdose of Heroin in 1969) and moved from a very small border town to the Big City with this guy." I was different alright -. About the time my son was 6 months old I started using heroin. I had attended an AA meeting when I was in jail and I wanted what they had. I liked to get high. I don't know why I started drinking but I know why I continued.I was overwhelmed with my own self-center coolness. a girl. Drinking Never Stopped I was in my second relationship at this time and with my first baby boy. I was attracted to the program and where they were in their lives after sharing with us my story. I was drinking everyday using drugs just to feel normal. . All I could really remember was I wanted to be a good mother so bad and my son was so beautiful. I spent nine months in jail and swore I would not ever drink or use again. with my third boyfriend (all boyfriends were alcoholics and drug addicts) The first child lived with my sister second with her aunt and now third with her grandmother and father. I thought I was "different. And when I looked back that was very clear to me. I'm not quite sure when because unfortunately the disease did not let me know what phase I was in. I also had another child. my hair. In 1990 I was arrested for petty theft and spent time in jail and camps. I had another child. everything on the outside was different. However everything on the inside was the same. I Wanted What They Had I was drunk and using by the end of that week. it ran a predictable coarse. I never forgot that. I got out and stayed sober for about a week that was the longest most boring week I had ever experienced. A Predictable Course Life was not bad. a girl and this time. We got an apartment and both got jobs. I drank socially and did drugs occasionally. After so many days. I was in love with this drug and loved how it made me feel and not feel at the same time again the beginning was fun but one year later it was a nightmare. Her father's sisters family took her to give her a future. and the state stepped in and took this child due to me being totally strung out. someone to give me a chance. I thought all I needed was a job. I managed to stay off drugs but drinking never face. months or years. my hands. my eyes. I was sad until I got home and started drinking and my so-called friends convinced me I was doing the right thing and of course that's all I needed to hear. The first thing I learned when I came to AA that Alcohol was a disease. It was primary.

The miracles that have happened to me in the past 10 years are great. Growing Up With Alcoholics Growing up with two alcoholics is tumultuous to say the least and a nightmare to say the worst. Here is her story. In the past I went to a department store to any store to steal not buy anything. misunderstanding and words that caused me to betray. Trying to Become Invisible As the oldest of two children. It was tough. Some of my earliest memories were of my dad drinking tall cans of beer. Living life on life's terms and having to do everything sober for the first time was scary. Life is good. I didn't suffer over much. lives with me and I have a boyfriend who is also in recovery.changed. by the grace of God. My baby daughter. take care of things as much as a . And I owe it all to AA. For the most part. My two older children never came to live with me but I have a wonderful active relationship with them.Mary B Growing up in an alcoholic home can affect children in ways they may not even realize. I thought I knew everything and found out how I knew nothing and my reasons for wanting to go to a rehab and meetings to get my family back and a job and apartment and car -. 10 years. neglect. I had to learn how to do everything a new way all over again (humble). Miracles Have Happened All I had to do was not pick-up one day at a time. I have managed to put together.and oh! how I could go on -. I did not suffer the insidious physical or sexual abuse that some others have growing up with the disease running rampant in their homes. I vaguely remember my mom drinking too but knew somewhere my fragile little mind couldn't handle the concept of both parents being alcoholic so my alcohol radar focused on my dad for years. stuff down and ignore my own feelings to the point that all my thoughts rendered me confused and helpless for most of my life. who is now 10. For Jaie. Everything was new and different. -. What I suffered in my family was emotional abuse. Had to Learn How to Do Everything My first visit to a department store was scary I was so uncomfortable I did not know how to shop. it took a string of failed relationships and three divorces before she realized that her attitude might be part of the problem. We always had a roof over our heads and food to eat. I took great pains to be invisible. Jaie's Recovery Story My name is Jaie and I represent part of the legacy of alcoholism. I'm not an alcoholic myself and am grateful that somehow the dreaded disease of direct consumption passed over me but unfortunately the affects and legacy of alcoholism did not.A month later I took my daughter and went back home to the border town where I was born and entered a rehab and started going to meetings. From the age of two I can remember the white and gold cans. I'm so glad that my sponsor helped me to slow down and keep it simple.

You can't learn about love when what you're really seeking is reciprocal narcissism. I grew tired of that feeling and realized truly for the first time ever. it made me force myself to be strong and to prove myself worth by being an indispensable helpful child. torn apart and miserable and still I did not connect the fact that I lived and breathed the legacy of alcoholism. the real me inside. This behavior deepened the chasm of forced independence inside. girlfriend and employee. I see how I created a fantasy of "everything is fine" around people and relationships that were not fine for me. The folks I was involved with were good people but they were not right for me in such an unenlightened state. I searched and acted in ways to win the love of the alcoholics in my life. not doing so well that I would draw attention to myself.child could. I didn't know that was happening and I don't want to diminish the feelings I felt for the loves I had in my life because at some level. my gut level reactions and feelings. deal with being ignored for the most part and just trying so hard to do well enough in school not to draw attention to myself but then again. These things served me well except with romantic relationships. Rescuing Everyone Around Me That served me well in business but it made me an island unto myself with no way for anyone to truly reach me. I left. I Was Part of the Problem When I knew they loved and needed me. The Fantasy Failed Me I now see my own hand in my romantic undoing time and time again. I blamed them and felt the hurt and pain of disappointment each time the fantasy failed me. friend. the only person I had the power to control or change was me. Those always left me longing because I kept attracting to me those things I knew as familiar…that sense of needy people that I could never really come to trust and be myself with. The alcoholics in my life had the problem. I fixed them and then when they needed me less or they needed me so much it consumed and exhausted me. You can't truly share love from behind mile high impenetrable hardened steel walls. For years I believed I did not have a problem. I left wounded. I had to learn understanding of human nature and I had to become so strong and independent I needed nothing and no one. I grew up learning the sky was green and the grass was blue and feeling the inherent conflict that brings because a part of me somewhere knew different. learned to be anticipating of everyone's needs and fixing or rescuing everyone around me even those who were not alcoholic but in need of rescue. It wasn't until I went through divorces two and three within a 2 year period that it dawned on me that I really was part of the problem. The Legacy of Alcoholism Al-Anon lead me back to myself and helped me to see how my defenses interfered with my relationships. I had to grow up fast. Growing up in an alcoholic home may have created unhealthy defenses in me necessary to survive but it was me who held those defenses and employed them as an adult to the peril of 3 marriages and countless other relationships. I also learned to see behavior and automatically excuse it because I understood what was wrong. I did love them deeply and knew that at heart these souls were . Through Al-Anon and counseling I have learned so much.

they will learn to transform or transmute into something wonderful. the legacy of alcoholism is strong and my goal now is to heal that.good souls who. but if I see that it is in some cases. I pray it's not too late. connect all my feelings. like me. Trying to Stop the Legacy So. had developed unhealthy aspects of their personalities through the filter of the legacy of alcoholism. They will be as I made them to be and the negative aspects. learn to love and trust myself and undo so much of the damage I've done. I hope. Jaie . I'll gently point my own children to the rooms of Al-Anon where they too might gain wisdom and understanding. make amends where that is possible and do my best to stop the legacy of alcoholism from being passed down through my children and grandchildren.