If you’re a recovering alcoholic, you may well have heard the term ‘relapse happens before the first drink. This refers to the negative headspace that exists in order to allow the first drink to happen. Those who replaces have spent a considerable time dwelling on negative thoughts and these told them that things would improve with drinking substances.
These problematic cognitions can accuse the individual of living a dull existence as a sober person – the problematic thoughts can tell you that it’s time to drink again.
It is vitally important for you to be able to remember why you wanted to get sober in the first place – especially important following alcohol rehab.
Relapse thoughts occur when the brain is still connecting to that reward system. Abusive substances are not in fact what you need to feel good, what you need to feel good is any kind of reward system that will not harm you.
You could have memories of times where drugs and alcohol acted as a crutch and were able to help you in day-to-day struggles in life. However memories can get distorted, they can feel like these were wonderful experiences – these are known as romancing the drink or euphoric recall. This can be a trigger for hunger, anger, loneliness and feeling tired – it can make you want to erase these feelings with substances. Symptoms of these unpleasant emotions or urges can make you want to relapse as well as when people have high expectations of you to be able to get sober on the double.
Relapsing thoughts can serve as to let you know that you need more help or a different method of treatment that you are already getting.
In order to fight these thoughts you should let others know what’s going on inside your head so you no longer have to keep the secret to yourself (and associated pressure).
You will feel much better after letting all of those secrets out of your chest. You feel good in letting those secrets off your chest and they won’t have as much power over you anymore. Make sure that you go to your AA meetings and share your story with others, making sure others know your state of mind – you can tell your sponsor about your thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation can help you with intrusive thoughts and give you more insight into your mental processes. You can educate yourself on relapse triggers and learn how to avoid them whether that means avoiding certain triggers and situations/ It can also help to write down thoughts in a journal as to re-read them in the future and recognise these as temporary thoughts. Experiencing this does not fail your recovery – it is only important to not let the thoughts turn into reality.