While recovering from a Substance Abuse disorder, relapse is almost inevitable. Relapse does not happen accidentally, no matter what you are recovering from the process does not change. There is a 40-90% relapse rate within the first year of recovery. There are ways to significantly reduce the chances of relapse by learning some warning signs. These signs could start weeks or even months ahead of time, leading up to relapse. Understanding these warning signs will give you the advantage to keep your recovery going strong.

  • Don’t ignore stress! As much as we would all like to avoid stress, it is nearly impossible. As an addict, we are accustomed to using substances to avoid the stress we have. The stress is still there; you are just not dealing with it. Try to identify the signs of stress, such as your heart rate elevating, irritability, sweating, or muscle tension. Use these warnings and try to find a safe and sober way to deal with it. Try yoga, mediation, working out, or even go for a walk. 
  • Check your program. You will find the right place for you. Not every treatment facility is the same with the same morals of helping people live a clean, sober life. Ask yourself some questions to help you decide if this is right for you.

 Do you have a sponsor you trust and can call on?

 Are you going to the right meetings focusing on your recovery? 

 Is your sponsor helping you work your steps?

  Are you involved with your group?

  And are you willing to be honest and share during counseling and meetings?

  • Feel your feelings. While suffering from substance abuse disorder, we create a vicious cycle of avoiding pain, of any kind. In the beginning of your recovery journey, your feelings are going to be more intense due to not being numb from the drugs or alcohol. Stay active in going to meetings. Every day for the first two months if possible! This creates a safe and comfortable place for you to share how you feel with people who are going through the same situation as you. 
  • People around you. Surround yourself with people who want the same thing as you. It is okay to make new friends and work on your recovery, supporting each other. Do not isolate yourself. That is when you start wanting to hang out with old friends and old bad habits. If you feel the erg to do so, call your sponsor and go to a meeting. You would be surprised how much it helps. 
  • Sharing. Do not be shy at meetings. You might think what you have to say does not matter, or it is silly. Your story could change someone’s life. Everyone in that meeting is going through their own story. They are there for help, and what you share with them might be exactly what they need to hear to keep them going!
  • Professional help. Generally, while working a program, counseling and therapy are involved. Depression and anxiety are completely normal during early recovery. Be open to sharing your thoughts and feelings with your therapist or counselor. Work through the pain, it will be worth it.
  • Working your steps. Not everyone goes at the same paste. Just because someone is on a step or two ahead of you, doesn’t mean you should rush through your steps. Take your time and work each step to your best ability.

Keep in mind, everyone’s recovery is different and unique. Do not compare yourself to anyone else’s progress. Just work on yourself and find your triggers. Try to manage them in healthy alternative ways. Keep a support system around you, and you will rock this path to a clean and sober life!