Relapse happens when you stop maintaining your goal or avoiding or reducing the use of alcohol or substance and return to the previous levels of use. Recovering from alcohol or other substance use takes time, and experts agree that relapse is part of the recovery process.
Another common cause for relapse is stress. There is a strong connection between alcohol and substance use and personal challenges. Problems at work, emotional and psychological issues, financial hardships, rejection, and challenges in personal relations can easily make you fall back into your old habits.
Reasons for falling back into old habits can be personal. A relapse is never a sign that you are weak or a failure. It is just a continuation of your old coping mechanisms, which should be replaced with new healthy ones. So let us look at why it’s so easy to fall back into your bad habits.
No Way Out Mentality
It’s easy to go back to your old habits when you believe that you’ve been in that habit for too long, and there is no way it’s ever going away. But this is just one of the lies addicts tell themselves. Your body craves bad habits for different reasons. If you don’t address these reasons, you remain vulnerable to the habits even if you try to quit.
Having an impression that you are over your bad habit can also lead you back to the habit. You need to manage and keep overconfidence in check and remember that recovery is a long journey of self-discovery. Overconfidence can compromise your defense and the boundaries you need to maintain sobriety.
Bending the Rules
Feeling strong is a powerful milestone in your recovery journey. But when it makes you believe that you have mastered your recovery and can now go back to occasional alcohol or drug use, it needs to be checked and managed. It can also lead to complacency, making you feel like the hard part is now done and leading you away from being an active participant in your recovery process.
Recovery is challenging but rewarding. Use the opportunity to change your life. Avoid negating your recovery. Instead, embrace it and have a happy life. Set healthy boundaries and say no to unreasonable requests or thoughts. Be completely honest with yourself and everyone else cheering you on in your journey.
Most importantly, ask for help and create a recovery circle of close friends, family, and recovery groups. Work with a professional specializing in opiate detox in Massachusetts to walk you through opioid dependence. Practice self-care by celebrating small wins, having fun in a clean environment, practicing healthy eating and sleeping habits, and coming up with a gratitude list.
Looking for Dopamine
Typically, relapse happens in response to stressful triggers. However, it’s imperative to note that dopamine also plays a crucial role in increasing your risk of relapse. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for movement, memory, mood, attention, and more functions. It also acts as a reward center and a feel-good hormone that gives you a sense of pleasure.
Going back to your old habits with the hope of improving your mood and making yourself happy can only make things worse. The best way is to create a new life that makes it easier for you not to use alcohol or substances. Avoid people who encourage your old habits, places where you source for substance, and things that dictate your old behavior.
Addiction can be sneaky. Sometimes, you may only see high-risk situations once you find yourself in them. So, make a list of your ideal high-risk situations, go over it with someone, and keep it. Change your negative thinking and believe that you, too, can recover. Make a plan, set a goal, and stay motivated throughout the journey. It is okay to fall back, but don’t give up till you reach your goal.
How to Stop Falling Back into Bad Habits
The first step is to embrace relapse as a mile marker in your journey to recovery. Use it as an opportunity to learn, reflect, and review new ways to go back to recommitment. Relapse can also teach you to have compassion for yourself and others and that you can be all things: powerful and helpless, clear and confused, successful and insufficient, and conscious and unconscious.
Remember changing habits takes time. So, don’t be so hard on yourself. But for you to give something up, you have to replace it with something else. So, be deliberate in making your new habit structure stronger and face your relapse not as an enemy but as an agent for change. Don’t forget that it gets easier with time.