Relapse can be traumatic for everyone involved. It may take awhile to try and understand what happened, how, and why. It may even be confusing as to what actually happened, if it was really relapse. It can help to know the definition of a relapse and how to know if it has happened before feeling panic-stricken about the experience.
Definition of Relapse
One of the things that may confuse people in recovery about relapse is how to know if an experience is actually a relapse. For instance, prescribed medication for a medical procedure is not considered a relapse, but it can cause incredible stress and anxiety for people in recovery from drug use, especially if they were prescription medication. What can help in figuring out how to navigate a medical procedure in recovery is to speak with the doctor about a history of alcohol or drug use. The doctor should be willing to listen and negotiate skipping narcotics in favor of other over the counter medicines, with the support of the person having the procedure done, of course. Some people have a low pain threshold and, for them, it may be intolerable to experience post-op pain without drug relief. Too much pain post-op can delay the healing process and even play with a person’s mind, acting as a trigger to want to use to numb out.
A relapse, whether real or an experience that occurs as part of a medical procedure, can be a great learning opportunity. Even if a medical procedure followed by short-term narcotic pain relief triggers thoughts of using, it is simply a trick being played on the mind. Addiction recovery is funny like that, in how it plays with the mind to believe one thing even if another thing is actually true. What really matters is that every day a person is doing something to grow into who they want to become and does not use any lapse (mentally with triggers or actual relapse) to judge themselves or others. This is no reason to go out and start experimenting to see how to get away with using a little bit here or there and not fully relapse. Addiction recovery is no joke.
The best thing to do in early recovery is to focus on sobriety and abstinence. Getting past the addiction into recovery is hard and takes lots of determination. Pay extra attention to self care. Meditate, pray, do what works to keep mentally strong. Doing what feels right and brings positive thoughts and feelings can go a long way to building confidence for the longer journey of recovery.
Serenity Oaks provides an intensive 5 week program to support your sobriety and recovery from addiction. Our goal is to provide a safe space to work through detox in a supported environment. Call us to find out how we can help you get started: 844-720-6847.