Whoops! Did it Again
If you find yourself suddenly revisiting an old addiction or habit that you thought you were finally rid of... "Hang on a minute," you scream! "What are you talking about? An addiction relapse?! Please! I don't want to go there." An addiction relapse, like all relapses, is simply falling back into old patterns of thinking, acting or feeling. You know the deal: you've come so far and avoided the substance or whatever it is to which you are addicted, and then suddenly you're caught in the tenacious jaws of the addiction relapse trap. A nasty bite from one of these can inflict a critically brutal wound that cuts very deeply. You can fight addiction relapses and come out a winner. You simply need to understand what's really going on.
Coping with Addiction Relapse
You've gone back to your old methods and models of behavior for comfort. That's the only way that you know how to cope. Let's work this backwards by looking closely at the end result to the warning signs, from your return to the addiction to where it began. What triggered its return? To achieve this you need to hit the rewind button and see what happened immediately before you relapsed.
Let's say, for example, that you are addicted to playing poker machines and you find yourself relapsing one afternoon after a busy day at work. You didn't mean to, but you have found yourself standing in front of the machine and, without even bothering to sit down to play, you have gone ahead and fed it your entire paycheck. You watched in utter disbelief as the credits fell with lightening speed but still you couldn't stop.
To end this addiction relapse, take just a moment of pause in the middle of your binge. Go back and pinpoint the exact moment that you felt like you just had to play the machine. What was the impulse of that crazed moment? What was happening both deep inside and outside of you?
It can be daunting, but you will find a reason, be it a thought process, a feeling or an action. So now what happens? Look out, as the first reaction is usually anger. Damn, I failed again. I am so useless! These are typical responses when an addiction relapse occurs.
After the initial reaction you basically have three choices. You may continue with your addictive behavior for the moment in anger. Hopefully, you will also have learnt to stay more alert to the triggers that cause your addiction relapses, which in turn may prevent further relapses in the future.
The choice that you may make instead is denial, it's the "just this once" game where you promise yourself that it won't happen again. Good luck with that! The most helpful choice would be to go into relapse stopper mode and stop that binge dead in its tracks. How do you do that?
It's uncomplicated: you basically just make a decision to do something else. You can do anything really, unless it's equally dangerous. For example, don't use alcohol to replace the need to play the pokies, or you may end up with another addiction. Gloom and doom? Definitely not. Just recognize that the vehicle that led you to this place, whether a thought process, feeling or action is past. That's right, wave it goodbye. Know that you don't need to tag along for yet another ride on the addiction relapse merry-go-round. You can stop that addiction relapse once and for all.