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Warning Signs That You May Be Relapsing: How to Get Back on Track!

When a person admits that a drug misuse problem exists and seeks treatment, it is the first step towards recovery. However, life is not perfect. As a person who deals with a drug misses disorder reenters the real world, triggers and temptations may lead to relapse. Even when this occurs, it does not mean that sober life is impossible. It is essential to get back on the right track. Luckily, there are warning signs that relapse is occurring. Prelapse, the beginning of relapse, is an important time. Identifying this early stage allows a person to get necessary assistance quickly.

sober-living

Why Relapse Occurs

Treating addiction is tricky. An individual must go through a process of withdrawal and therapy. All of this is quite mentally and physically draining. Trying to quit without professional help is not always possible. Triggers and everyday temptations will always exist. There are a number of reasons why a person may relapse.

  • Recovery is Not a High Priority. Staying sober is difficult. Some people feel like a relapse is inevitable. However, these feelings make it easy to give up. Recovery should be a top priority at all times.
  • Little Support. Successful treatment can only occur when a large system of support exists. Family and friends must provide encouragement to remain on a sober path. During inpatient treatment, patients are involved with group therapy and other programs that bolster success. In the outside world, an individual should keep attending therapy and group sessions.
  • Low Motivation. The first step toward recovery is admitting that a problem exists. Without this gut feeling, it is not possible to enjoy a successful treatment. It is essential to understand the benefits of sobriety so that a person does not get caught up in the relapsing cycle.
  • Little Preparation. Inside a treatment facility, it is simple to follow the rules. However, many people are not properly prepared to reenter the real world. Many times, a person returns to the same situations that caused the drug misuse problems. It is vital to have a solid plan in place before leaving a treatment center. Certain unforeseen circumstances may lead to recovery problems. Some people decide to enter sober living communities for extra support throughout the transition back to real life.

Signs of Prelapse

To repeat, prelapse is a period of time at the start of relapse. It occurs well before drugs or alcohol enter the body. Although a person who has finished treatment wants to remain sober, nothing is sure in life. There is no cure for addiction. Therefore, it is essential to keep up the battle in the long term. When a person is beginning to step backward, there are certain signs that indicate prelapse is occurring.

  • Irritability heading to anger
  • Heightened dishonesty
  • Depressive behavior
  • Impulsiveness
  • Dissatisfaction with life
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor self-care
  • Loss of interest in therapy

Stages of Relapse

When a person progresses through prelapse, a total relapse is likely. Friends and family should be aware of the signs. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has noted that it is common for a person to experience at least one episode of relapse throughout the recovery process. Being able to identify the signs will help a person to get back on track.

Relapse is not just a once-and-done event. Instead, it is a process that has a few stages.

  • Emotional. Emotional relapse is the initial stage. A person usually begins to feel negative emotional responses like moodiness and angst. Also, he or she may begin eating and sleeping poorly. In other words, the desire for recovery lessens. It is essential to recognize that this stage occurs before a person knows a danger to sobriety exists.
  • Mental. Mental relapse is the next stage. Oftentimes, it entails a period of internal struggle. One part of the individual wants to remain clean. However, the other part is being drawn back to drugs or alcohol. The problem with addiction is that the urge to use always remains. When this phase occurs, thoughts to use are in full swing. Therefore, it is extremely challenging to avoid temptation.
  • Physical. Physical relapse is the final stage. It is the actual time when a person gives in to temptation and uses it again. As a person consumes drugs or alcohol, sobriety is officially broken. With one slip, a person may be back to dealing with intense cravings and an endless cycle of misuse. When this happens, it may be necessary to reenter treatment on a full-time basis.

Triggers for Relapse

To be sure, there are endless triggers that can cause a person to relapse. Commonly, depression is at the root of most issues. Depression leads a person to use drugs or alcohol to suppress negative feelings. Also, drug misuse may cause depression. This is a cycle that must be recognized.

Stress is another trigger for relapse. Studies have shown people often turn to drugs in order to mitigate stress. As a person is confronted with a stressful situation, it is a reflex to use drugs or alcohol as a crutch. Therefore, it is essential for people in recovery to learn ways to deal with stressful situations and to use coping mechanisms to get through tough times.

Exhaustion is another trigger. When a person is experiencing a lack of sleep, the body becomes disoriented. It makes an individual fall victim to self-neglect, which causes vulnerability to relapse. Recovery is difficult and requires full attention at all times. If a person is physically exhausted, it becomes difficult to focus on treatment and to think straight.

Finally, isolation may cause relapse as well. To repeat, a recovering individual requires a strong system of support, especially when feeling alone. To avoid relapse, it is essential to give loved one support and to encourage him or her to attend group sessions. Being around people who struggle with similar issues makes triggers less powerful.

Preventing Relapse

Recognizing that relapse is quite common means that a person must have a plan to prevent the urge to use again. As soon as a person feels an urge to return to bad habits, it is essential to seek help and to talk out the feelings. This is the basis for Alcoholics Anonymous. In this group, members have sponsors who are available during times of need. Sponsors offer encouragement and lend a hand to keep the person on a sober path.

Many people romanticize the situation and only think about the good feelings that result from using. However, looking at the entire picture will add perspective. A person must remember all the negatives that drug misuse brings.

When things turn severe, it may be necessary for a person to return to a treatment facility. Exiting the environment that causes triggers will help a person keep his or her head on straight. It reminds the person about the journey that he or she has started. Inpatient treatment is not always required. Outpatient services may be enough to get a person back on the right path.

How to Recover from Relapse

To emphasize, relapse is not the end. It is part of a process and must be addressed quickly. Relapse is not failure. However, it is a serious matter. Recovering from a relapse can occur only if a person can identify the causes of the backtrack. Focusing on the triggers allows a person to put safeguards in place to prevent future problems. Having information about personal warning signs gives better ammunition against problems down the road. A therapist can help a person develop a relapse prevention plan. Although there is no foolproof way to totally eliminate the possibility of relapse, a plan is a great tool and can raise the chances of enjoying a successful recovery in the long term.

Relapse is an unfortunate possibility during recovery. Understanding the different stages and symptoms of prelapse can help a person avoid the devastating pitfalls and can help the individual regain a sober mentality.

Xanax and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the use of Xanax and other psychiatric drugs has increased. About 46% of people who reported misusing the drug said they took it to relax or feel relief from anxiety.[1] Another 22% said they took it to help them sleep. Misusers were people who took it without a prescription and those who had a prescription but took more than prescribed. About 5.8% of adults in the United States reported misusing a prescription drug in 2020, and 1.5% reported misusing benzodiazepines.[2] Although misusing the drug by taking too much or taking it without a prescription are both common forms of abuse, another dangerous potential form of misuse is mixing it with alcohol.
Xanax and Alcohol

What Is Xanax?

Also called alprazolam by its generic name, Xanax is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.[3] Valium is also a benzodiazepine, but Xanax was developed as an alternative to it. It was designed especially for treating panic attacks from anxiety, along with the chronic condition of anxiety. Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers and have a sedating effect. Since they tend to work quickly, they are often prescribed for people who have multiple panic attack episodes. Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance and is only available through prescription. However, people who misuse it often purchase it from a street drug dealer or obtain it from a friend or family member who has a prescription. One of the reasons why Xanax was created was to make a substance with less abuse potential than Valium. However, the abuse potential for Xanax is still significant because of how it acts on the body and affects the brain.

How Does Xanax Affect the Body and Brain?

Xanax is a central nervous system depressant.[3] This means that it slows the activity of the CNS. At the same time, it also increases gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is commonly known as GABA. This is the brain chemical that is responsible for creating feelings of calmness or relaxation. As a result, people feel more relaxed and less anxious when they take Xanax. Additionally, the drug reduces the level of excitement in the brain. When a person experiences a panic attack, the level of brain excitement is high.

Mixing Alcohol and Xanax

In addition to the actions Xanax has on the brain, there are other potential effects on the body. For example, when the level of brain excitement is high during a panic attack or when there is increased anxiety, a person’s muscles are usually tense. As a result of the Xanax taking effect, a person’s muscles will relax more. Some people get headaches when their anxiety is high, and the change in brain chemicals may also help relieve a headache.

Does Xanax Interact With Alcohol?

Xanax and alcohol interact with one another. Because of this, physicians and pharmacists often warn people to avoid consuming alcohol while taking Xanax. To better understand exactly how the two interact, it helps to know the science of it. This is easier to understand by learning the effects of ethanol and alprazolam mixing. Although all alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, they contain varying amounts.

In a study, researchers noted that ethanol and alprazolam created increased aggression.[5] Also, they analyzed the chemical interaction of the two substances. In comparison with administering alprazolam by itself, the concentration of the drug in the brain increased significantly when it was administered along with ethanol. The researchers concluded that ethanol could increase alprazolam toxicity by preventing CYP3A4 activity, along with potentially affecting other processes. Based on reported problems of people drinking alcohol and taking Xanax, their findings are certainly supported in medical statistics as well.

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Xanax?

As noted in the previous section, alcohol can increase the toxicity risks of Xanax or alprazolam. Because of this, taking the two substances together typically intensifies their individual effects.[6] To know what to possibly expect in terms of side effects and dangers, it helps to know the effects of both substances individually.

Effects of Alcohol

After the initial interaction that may create a subdued feeling, these are some potential effects of alcohol:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings
  • Lethargy or sleepiness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Vomiting

Effects of Xanax

These are some potential negative effects of Xanax:

  • Memory problems
  • Seizures
  • Poor coordination
  • Impaired vision
  • Rage and aggression
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting or nausea

Long-Term Effects of Xanax and Alcohol

Although the beginning effects of even a small amount of alcohol and Xanax may be a buzz that is similar to consuming a lot of alcohol, the effects can quickly become unpleasant. If a person consumes alcohol and Xanax together regularly, there can be long-term effects. Long-term misuse of any chemical substance can increase the risk of developing other chronic illnesses. For example, someone who misuses alcohol may be too tired to exercise and may over-eat. This can lead to obesity and a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Drinking and substance abuse can also lead to permanent liver damage. Some of the shared effects of alcohol and alprazolam, such as memory problems and lack of coordination, can become long-term problems with repeated abuse. Since alcohol and drugs are hard on the gastrointestinal system, people can also develop a variety of GI disorders because of substance abuse. Misusing Xanax, alcohol, or both of them can exacerbate the effects of some existing health conditions as well. As a person continually misuses Xanax and alcohol, the risk of developing chemical dependence is higher.[7] This also increases the risk of developing an addiction.

Is There Help for Addiction To Alcohol and Xanax?

Treatment facilities exist in every state that offers treatment for alcohol addiction, Xanax addiction, and other substance addictions. Many of these treatment centers offer programs to treat more than one existing addiction. Additionally, they offer dual diagnosis treatment to address mental health issues.[8] Most people who misuse Xanax and have an alcohol addiction require dual diagnosis treatment since the underlying issue is usually anxiety or another mood disorder.

Alcohol & Xanax Addiction

A mental health condition is often the reason a person seeks a substance to misuse. For instance, someone with anxiety that is not managed well may seek Xanax and alcohol to help reduce the unpleasant effects of the anxiety. Addiction treatment centers help people find the right treatments for all their psychological health needs, including supportive therapies.

Treatment Programs

Although not all facilities offer every form of program, these are some of the types of addiction treatment programs that exist:

  • Inpatient detox takes place in a medical facility, and a person is supervised 24/7 while she or he stops using a substance.
  • Residential or inpatient treatment involves 24/7 care in a facility for a period between a month or up to a year, depending on individual needs.
  • Partial hospitalization treatment typically includes five sessions per week in a facility, and they last about five hours each.
  • An intensive outpatient program usually includes multiple weekly treatment sessions, and each session is about three hours.
  • An outpatient program may involve one or more sessions per week, and sessions are usually less than a few hours.
  • Online programs involve remote counseling for intensive or regular therapy.

Types of Therapy

There are several therapy approaches and designs that professionals use in addiction treatment. These are some common examples:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy analyzes the reasons for behaviors, and dialectical behavior therapy helps people modify behaviors.
  • Group therapy involves others who struggle with addiction.
  • Individual therapy focuses on the person with the addiction.
  • Family therapy helps family members learn how to support their loved one with addiction, and it helps the person with the addiction understand the individual effects on the family members.
  • 12-step meetings introduce people to a form of group therapy that is helpful in maintaining recovery as an ongoing requirement.
  • Holistic and natural therapies may include music therapy, meditation, yoga, exercise, nutrition, and other therapies that support overall wellness or teach people healthier habits.

Treatment for Alcohol and Xanax Addiction

A treatment facility will help a person who struggles with Xanax and alcohol addiction by developing a custom treatment plan. Through therapy, people learn their behavior causes or triggers. They also learn how to avoid some triggers, cope with the unavoidable ones and learn ways to overcome urges to misuse substances. They also learn how to stay in recovery and reduce their chances of relapsing. Thanks to legislative changes, most addiction treatment programs are covered or partially covered by marketplace insurance plans when treatment is deemed necessary by a medical professional.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294026/
[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse
[3] https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Benzodiazepenes-2020_1.pdf
[4] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326528
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29848078/
[6] https://www.healthline.com/health/xanax-and-alcohol
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/
[8] https://medlineplus.gov/dualdiagnosis.html

How to Stay Positive in Recovery

Negative moments can play a substantial role in the development of substance use disorders and they can come at you almost every day. Navigating negative situations in recovery can be hard. We most likely have previously turned to drugs and alcohol to try to escape a slump, but that is no longer an option now that we have to start on this path of recovery. Developing new ways of coping with negative situations and emotions is critical to successful sobriety.

Stress regularly is encountered in everyday life. It can be the downfall in someone’s recovery and interfere with a person’s success. It is important for those in recovery to develop the life skills to support a sober lifestyle, which may include developing new coping mechanisms to deal with stressors. While some of these coping mechanisms may be physical acts such as working out, playing music, making artwork, or writing, there are other exercises a person can engage in to encourage positive thinking and release negative feelings.

happy woman

 

Tips for Staying Positive in Recovery

While In recovery, it is very important not to let negative thoughts get you down. Often in treatment, you hear that “this too shall pass” in order to help others stay in the present. It is easy to dwell on negative experiences and focus on the wrong things, but positive thinking can help improve the outcome of treatment.

There are simple ways you can increase positive thinking and improve your outlook. Some skills are acquired through the recovery process naturally. Some ways to increase positivity are:

1. Eat a Healthy Diet and Exercise

After years of abuse on your body from drugs and alcohol, your body was most likely lacking proper nutritional physical strength. With a proper balanced diet and exercise not only will you reverse the damage you’ve caused but it will also help you better your mood and behavior. Eat antioxidant-rich foods and be sure to fill up on fiber and high-quality lean proteins and daily walks can help boost your endorphins

2. Stick to a Sleep Schedule

While we were using drugs and alcohol we most likely weren’t getting sufficient sleep. It is a known fact that drugs and alcohol mess with people’s circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep definitely does not put anyone in a good mood.

3. Surround Yourself with Positive People

Still hanging around those you used with is a sure way to end up relapsing. You don’t just have to hang around sober people either. Whomever you hang out with just make sure they support your sobriety and will hold you accountable for your actions. A true friend will tell you when you are wrong.

4. Practice Self Love

Drugs and alcohol had brought you to a point where you thought of yourself as a loser, a disappointment and probably couldn’t even look at yourself in the mirror. In order to stay happy and healthy in sobriety, it’s important to be diligent about practicing self-love. Create positive daily affirmations, Start journaling, Read inspirational books And, most importantly, treat yourself with compassion and kindness.

5. Find a New Hobby

After freeing yourself from the chains of drugs and alcohol you find yourself with a lot of free time on your hands. The time you used to spend using and finding ways to use is now free for exploring new hobbies and interests. When you fill your schedule with positive recovery activities where you create or learn new skills you feel accomplished and proud of yourself. This is not only healthy mentally but physically too.

6. Give Back

In active addiction, you only thought about yourself. Addiction can make people selfish and unforgiving. In recovery, people you don’t even know give you love and kindness and in return, you do the same for the next newcomer. When giving back and doing service you improve your self-confidence and also bring a sense of meaning and purpose back to your life and others.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, the first step is detox and most likely you will require a medical detox to ensure the most efficient and comfortable start to your new life of recovery.

Our Medical Detox Program

While the main priority of every detox program is to ensure safe withdrawal in a medically supervised setting, at Garden State Detox we also believe that every effective detox program should set a solid foundation for long-term sobriety, and prepare each individual client for a seamless transition to the next appropriate level of clinical care. We are here for your next step.