Throughout recovery, many individuals with a cocaine addiction find one of the biggest challenges is preventing a relapse. In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at what causes a relapse and some tips on how to prevent one in the future.
What Causes a Cocaine Relapse?
Relapsing is a normal and common part of the recovery process- no matter how long or hard you commit to your recovery plan, there is always a chance you will relapse due to the nature of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates while in recovery are between 40 to 60 percent and most commonly occur in the first 6 months of sobriety.
Unfortunately, following a relapse, it isn’t uncommon for an individual to experience feelings of deep shame and regret as well as a sense of hopelessness. This can be more detrimental than the relapse itself, causing many to give up the fight to recover altogether.
Instead, it’s important to use a relapse as a learning tool, rather than a negative, guilt-provoking disaster, helping to identify triggers and create a more personal relapse prevention plan for the future.
How to Prevent a Relapse in the Future
In order to effectively prevent a relapse, the individual must first understand that relapse begins long before the drug use actually occurs and that learning the warning signs of an impending relapse can help them to take action sooner.
The Stages of Relapse
Emotional relapse begins when an individual starts to suppress their emotions instead of dealing with them head on, leading to feelings of stress and isolation. This will commonly lead to issues such as them failing to stick to their recovery plan, perhaps missing meetings or picking up new, unhealthy coping mechanisms.
When an individual mentally relapses, they start to experience cravings for cocaine, spend more time thinking about their triggers and glamourise, or misremember their relationship with cocaine. They may also begin to lie or hide things from those close to them and start planning for getting their next hit.
If the individual succumbs to the cravings and uses cocaine again, they have physically relapsed.
The Warning Signs of a Cocaine Relapse
By learning and being able to identify the warning signs that come before a cocaine relapse, you can take steps to prevent it. These can vary between individuals, however, some common signs of an impending relapse include:
- Change in behaviour
If you, or those around you, start to notice a change in your behaviour or if you’re no longer performing your usual recovery steps such as attending recovery meetings, this can be a significant warning sign that a relapse is on its way.
- High Levels of Stress
High stress levels can put you at a much greater risk of relapsing as one of the number one relapse triggers. If you find yourself feeling more stressed recently, make sure to practice healthy coping strategies to try and reduce your stress levels e.g. take a bath, do a hobby you enjoy and get plenty of rest.
- Withdrawal from Loved Ones
It’s common for an individual to withdraw from their families right before a relapse occurs, becoming more and more isolated and further increasing the risk of relapse. Make sure to reach out to those you trust and speak about how you’re feeling. Remember, they would rather know what you’re experiencing now than find out when it’s too late to help.
- Denial About Feelings Surrounding Cocaine
- Following rehabilitation or a detox, you may start to forget all of the bad elements of your cocaine addiction and begin to glamourise the memories you have of using it, remembering only the good parts. Having this false perception of your addiction can be very dangerous, especially if you miss the ‘good old days’ and the lifestyle you used to have.
- Loss of Structure and Routine
One of the biggest parts of recovery is maintaining a routine to help structure your days. If this structure is disrupted or lost because, for example, you have lost your job, had a baby or just changed the things you usually do, this can lead to a relapse. If you find you have come out of your usual routine, do your best to get back into it or create a new routine to stick to.
- Emotional Outbursts
Sudden emotional outbursts can suggest you are experiencing high levels of stress or suffering from mental health problems e.g. anxiety and/or depression which are the biggest triggers of a relapse. Reach out to a loved one and speak with your GP about your mental health for help.
- Increase in Cravings
If you find your cravings for cocaine are getting stronger and stronger each day, make sure to really focus on your recovery plan and spend time with someone you trust won’t let you use drugs. It’s also wise at this point to seek help from your recovery centre.
- Secretive Behaviour
One of the most obvious signs you are coming close to a relapse is if you find yourself behaving secretly or lying about what you’re doing or who you’re with in order to plan to use cocaine again. Make sure to reach out to a loved one and explain how you’re feeling. It’s important you let them know now before it’s too late.
Don’t Wait, Reach Out for Support Now
Research has shown that early intervention yields the most substantial gains in the treatment of substance abuse and other possible co-occurring disorders such as a mental illness – which is often seen in combination with cocaine addiction.
This is why, if you’re struggling with a cocaine addiction or notice any of the warning signs that a relapse is likely to occur, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help at a recovery centre such as Acquiesce, where you can receive the right kind of help and support.