I’ve noticed most people deny that they are drifting toward relapse until it’s too late. Maybe they think, and I have, that they weren’t an addict/alcoholic after all. They just had a bit of a problem with the drug of choice. “After all I quit so I must be in control”, or, life is not going well and, after all, when I was stoned, life wasn’t that bad. Maybe its a combination of both but I don’t think anyone relapses when everything is going great! This is the opening point for the disease to gain strength. Lets not call it a disease because I feel that most people may feel the word “disease” is too strong. Our instant thought is that ” I don’t have a disease, I feel fine. I said “thought” because addiction seems to gain its strength through playing with our minds. Lets say that a little bit of your drug remains in your body forever and its alive but too week to do any damage. (maybe this is why, when you relapse, you end up straight back where you left off and it just gets worse from there. I’ve never heard anyone say, after a relapse, that it was “great for a while”, it’s always “it was fucked from the moment I picked up again”) It needs feeding and the only way it can gain strength is by being fed more of its own. You’ve managed to starve it by using your mind and seeking help to stop, by whichever way you did that, God, a guardian angel, rehab, church, faith, it doesn’t matter, you’re mind was smart enough to tell you, you’ve had enough, “I cant do it any more” and you sought help. So your drug has had enough time to work out that the physical addiction has gone, it’s not going to get fed that way, so it needs another way. Your mind!!
. Your mind helped starve it so why not use it to regain strength. This is when your addiction becomes cunning!!. If you’ve been clean for a while, it knows you’re not just going to go out and score, after all you’ve got on fine, up to now, without it so it has to find a “back door” to be fed. Your drug will try to convince your mind in a couple of ways. One is it will tell you that you are in control now so you can just have one taste/drink and you’ll be fine, you won’t need more. The second is sneaky, the back door approach. It will tell you that so long as you don’t take your drug of choice, it’s fine to take other drugs, in moderation, you’ll be ok! If you’re an alcoholic its ok to smoke dope, If you’re into meth, its ok to have a couple of drinks, etc. You never used to smoke much dope when you drank or you never used to drink heaps when you were on meth. This is the baffling part, It actually keeps you “under control” with your new comfort drug. It makes you think you’re using responsibly but it’s slowly edging you into a false sense of power over drugs. “I only drink when I go out with friends” or “I only smoke dope at parties” or “I only have a glass of wine with dinner”. Its found the “back door”. This seems to be its most powerful trick. People around you may say “be careful” or “your starting to smoke a fair bit” but you wont have a bar of it, “I’m in control, I will never slip back into my old ways”. This is about the time when the drug starts sending thoughts or ideas, that lead to relapse, to your subconscious. The classic signs or symptoms are:
- Romanticizing or longing for the old days
- Believing you are strong enough to use again without falling back into addiction
- Starting to reconnect with old friends from your addiction days
- Becoming defensive and no longer able to accept constructive criticism
- Beginning the pattern of denial that was present during the addiction
- Changes in attitude or behavior
- Sudden feelings of depression and loneliness
- Breaking down of social relationships
- Beginning to feel extremely stressed out and constantly tense
- Resenting those who are trying to help
- Withdrawal symptoms suddenly start to reappear
I think the hard part here is not so much recognising these thoughts or behaviours, because anyone who is in recovery can’t be stupid, it’s stopping them or not acting on them. Because you are doing other drugs, the original drug is gaining power. Everyone I’ve spoken to, who has relapsed, has gotten to this point and knows what they need to do but doesn’t do it!!! You MUST seek help and it’s not hard. You’ve done it before. Talk to someone, preferably someone in recovery, if not, any caring understanding person. Remember, you’re not looking for advice, you are just getting the problem out of your head, where it manifests and grows. Go to a confessional. Get to a meeting. Pray or “talk” to your higher power and ask for help. Close your eyes and try to remember the moment you knew you couldn’t do the drug anymore. Remember the really bad times and what you lost or nearly lost, because that’s all going to happen again and real fast. That’s not a “might” happen, it’s a WILL happen. Do anything and everything to stop the drug from owning you, because it will. The drug has been quietly working hard to get your thought patterns to this point and it wont give in without an almighty fight. You can and WILL win.