Whether you recognize addiction as a disease or not, it is almost always progressive and will get worse over time.
It is never easy to recover from an addiction - hence the word addiction, but there are many ways you can endeavor to help yourself. The first step is to recognize that you do suffer an addiction. If you are reading this you have either recognized your problem or you know someone with a problem.
No matter what your addiction there is certainly help to be had. Quitting is never easy; getting in touch with groups that understand what you are going through will certainly make the process more bearable - it’s always good to share a problem with like-minded sufferers. We recommend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART Recovery for starters. If you don't know anything about these organizations, check out their links, or this blog, which deals with myths about NA. If you really want to try the "cold turkey" route, you might be interested in this, this or this.
The real work begins by recognizing the signs of relapse. It is almost impossible for an addict to quit by themselves and never relapse, so any group that offers support will explain to you the signs you should expect.
Stages of Relapse
There are 3 acknowledged stages of relapse. The first is emotional relapse - you no longer have the addiction crutch to support you every day. Facing the problem that brought you to this place is a tough job and will almost certainly cause an emotional roller coaster for you, swinging between anger and anxiety. You will lash out at those who try to help, and it is important that your nearest and dearest understand what is going on so that they can tolerate your changes in mood and behavior - the recovery process will impact them almost as much as you.
The next stage is a mental relapse, where your mind will goes back again and again to the pleasure you felt when you were using; perhaps you will even consider using once more. Many addicts end up wrestling with this phase on their own because it is they often conceal their mental state from others.
The final phase is the physical relapse. Of course this is the most challenging phase when it will be almost impossible not to take the final step and return to your addiction. If you are a smoker you might buy a packet of cigarettes and even light one, watching almost from outside your own body the apparently inexorable path back to what you now feel made you happy. Getting to this stage one or more times will almost guarantee your complete relapse so it is important to recognize your feelings before they get to this point. Remember abstinence is not recovery; recovery has to come from within.
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