The Most Common Causes of Relapse

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

Avoiding relapse is a common struggle for recovering alcoholics and  drug addicts. As a friend or family member of an addict in recovery, it can often be difficult to know how to best support your loved one’s recovery efforts. Being aware of the triggers and warning signs of potential relapse is an important step in helping a recovering addict avoid the temptations and situations most likely to derail a successful recovery.

Warning Signs

While it is never possible to know what is going on in someone else’s mind, there are several external warning signs that a recovering addict is in danger of relapse. These signs include:

•    Difficulties with thinking and memory.
•    Sleep disturbances.
•    Oversensitivity to stress and emotional overreaction.
•    Being easily overwhelmed and having difficulty problem solving.
•    Depression.
•    Denial — saying everything is fine when clearly it is not.

Additionally, there are several internal warning signs that may be harder to spot but are just as real:

•    Self-pity — feeling like nothing goes right and nothing ever will.
•    Feeling unhealthy and tired.
•    Blaming problems on others.
•    Cravings — yearning to drink or use drugs to feel “normal” again.
•    Thinking that just one drink or one hit will be fine and there is no longer an addiction.


According to substance abuse counselor Carole Bennett, MA, there are four common motivating factors that drive addicts to relapse: boredom, fear, expectations and resentment. Of the many reasons addicts give for relapsing, most generally fall into one of these four categories.


Boredom is both a state of mind and a comfort zone. It is easy to slip into a daze in front of the television or the computer or simply sleep the day away. However, this type of mindset can easily lead a recovering addict to drug or alcohol use to relieve the boredom. Signs of a bored mindset include sluggishness, a lackluster attitude and despair. Overindulgence in activities such as eating, shopping or gambling can also be signs of boredom.

What family members can do to help: Find a common interest or hobby to share. Sports or other active pursuits are especially good. Having a passion for something can go a long way toward curing boredom.

What addicts can do to help themselves: Have a schedule and a routine. Knowing where to go and what to do can provide a sense of structure and accountability.


There are many things a recovering addict may fear, including losing control, the unknown, old troubles from the past, taking chances, making decisions or facing life without drugs or alcohol.

What family members can do to help: Unfortunately, because fear comes from within, there is not much friends and family can do besides provide reassurance, support and encouragement.

What addicts can do to help themselves: Trust in life’s victories, both big and small. Take comfort in accomplishments and in the positive occurrences in each day. Let one positive experience build upon another.


Once a recovering addict is clean and sober, there may be a sense of euphoria. A former addict may feel like taking on huge projects or have unrealistic expectations about life during recovery. If reality falls short of expectations, an addict may seek comfort through drugs or alcohol.

What family members can do to help: Manage your own expectations and be supportive.

What addicts can do to help themselves: Have realistic expectations about recovery and what you can accomplish during this period. Set realistic goals in order to avoid falling short of expectations and becoming frustrated.


This is the number one cause of relapse. Old resentments from the past may still be simmering, or new resentments toward friends and family may develop. Either way, resentments that are left to stew are a sure path to relapse. Signs and symptoms of resentment can include intense self-pity and anger.

What family members can do to help: Be aware of the possible situation, let go of your own resentment and be supportive of therapy.

What addicts can do to help themselves: Have a strong support system in place, whether it is sponsorship and 12-Step meetings, counseling or religious or spiritual guidance. Do not place old resentments on new relationships, and try to avoid resenting yourself.

Avoiding Temptation

One of the best things a recovering addict – as well as friends and family members of recovering addicts – can do to avoid temptation is to be aware of the triggers that cause relapse. In addition to the factors listed above, there are several other common relapse triggers, including but not limited to:

•    Having drugs or alcohol readily available or being in situations where they are readily available.
•    Parties and celebrations.
•    Guilt.
•    Physical injury.
•    Impatience with recovery.

While relapses do happen, keeping these factors and advice in mind can be a great tool in avoiding temptation and continued relapse in the future.

This Post was written and contributed by Ricky Stanton.  Ricky has over 10 years of experience helping people with their drug and drug rehab programs.  He hopes to continue to help educate others about the dangers of drug and alcohol addictions.

Breastfeeding may prevent MS relapse

July 16, 2009 by  

breastfeedingThere are about 2.5 million people worlwide suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease commonly afflicts young people in their prime, between the ages of 20 and 40. It is no surprise that many MS victims are women of reproductive age – mothers and wanna be mothers.

However, there are certain restrictions to moms with MS. Most MS drugs cannot be taken during pregnancy and while breasfeeding. The drugs can get into the mother’s milk and taken in by the baby.

Breastfeeding is the best thing for babies. It is healthy, economical, and green. Moms with MS however, have to choose between restarting medications immediately after delivery or breastfeeding their babies.

A recent study indicates that breastfeeding may not be just good for babies but for moms with MS.

Tracking 32 women with MS and 29 without MS during the gestation period and up to one year postpartum, the study results suggests that breastfeeding actually prevents MS relapse even without the medications.

The actual figures are as follows:

  • 52% of moms with MS did breastfeed or stopped prematurely in order to restart taking their medications.
  • 36% of moms with MS who exclusive breastfed has a relapse within the follow up period.
  • In contrast, 87% of those who partially breastfed or did not breastfeed at all had an MS relapse during the same period.

According to Annette Langer-Gould of Kaiser Permanente Southern California

“While 87 percent of the women who did not breastfeed exclusively had a relapse in the year after giving birth, only 36 percent of the women who did breastfeed exclusively relapsed in that postpartum year.”

The study results indicate that breastfeeding lowers the incidence of MS relapse whereas restarting MS medications two months after delivers seems to actually increase rather than decrease the incidence of relapse.

Breastfeeding seems to provide protection in moms with MS but the mechanisms are not so clear. However, this is not surprising since other studies have reported health benefits for breastfeeding moms, from decreased risk for hormone-related cancers, to improved cardiovascular health.

Breastfeeding is the natural way to go, the way nature designed it to be. It is no wonder that both mom and baby benefit from it.

According to Dr Eleanor Bimla Schwarz of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Healthcare, PA

“During pregnancy, the body stores up a bunch of nutrients with the plan that it’s going to release much of this in the form of breast milk, a very calorific food. If this doesn’t happen, what we see is that the woman’s body pays the price. Breast-feeding really helps bring you back to your baseline, and it helps women recover from the stress test that pregnancy entails.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.