Coping with a drug addiction is one of the hardest things a person will ever do. Addicts need to self-monitor and reach out for help on a constant basis. Addiction is a mental illness that will last for the rest of your life. There are many things you can do to lessen your chances of relapse. But there are also a number of things that can increase the chance of a relapse. Environmental relapse hazards are hazards within your home environment that might trigger your desire to use. What are some environmental hazards of relapse for meth addicts?
The best thing a meth addict can do in the first stages of recovery is to enroll in inpatient treatment. This removes them from the potential hazards of their environment and provides a safe, controlled environment to explore their addiction. But it’s important for meth addicts to examine their home environment as well. When they go home after they complete their treatment program, they need to have the support and stress-free dynamics that help prevent a relapse.
The First Weeks After Rehab Are the Hardest
In the first few weeks after a meth addict returns to their home, they’re most likely to relapse or be tempted to relapse. This is because while the rehab center provides a controlled environment, the addict’s home has uncontrolled factors that might trigger their mental illness. If the addict is unprepared, the sudden introduction of stress to their life can cause them to backslide.
For these reasons, it’s vitally important for addicts to have support systems in place before they leave rehab. They should be involved in outpatient services like therapy and counseling. If they’re taking mental health medication, they should have maintenance appointments with a psychiatrist. They should have resources for crisis lines and support groups that can intervene during rough times. It’s also helpful to undergo family therapy while in inpatient rehab. Doing so ensures that the addict’s family will take steps to support them when they get home.
The single biggest environmental relapse trigger for meth addicts is stress. Though the exact kinds of stress vary depending on the individual, the anxious feelings can often build up until they result in a relapse. While one stressful event alone might not cause a relapse, constant feelings of stress and worry will greatly increase relapse chances.
Stress can come from a great deal of different sources. It’s common for an addict to become stressed about situations at work, finances, relationships with family members, their own health, and taking care of themselves. Even staying sober can seem stressful if an addict becomes overwhelmed by the thought of future sobriety.
It’s important for a meth addict to recognize the biggest sources of stress in their life. Part of individual and family therapy will be creating strategies to deal with these stress sources. Where it’s possible, it’s helpful to eliminate the stress entirely. When that isn’t possible, it’s important to put support systems in place to help the addict.
For example, if an addict is feeling vulnerable after a difficult day at work, it’s helpful to have a friend or family member who can spend time with them and distract them. If an addict is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things they have to do, it’s helpful if their loved ones help shoulder the burden. If an addict is worried about the future or obsessing about the past, it helps to practice mindfulness techniques and engage in creative therapies.
Many addictions can be rooted in traumatic experiences. Aside from depression and anxiety, PTSD is one of the most common comorbid mental disorders for addicts. Even though PTSD is traditionally seen as a soldier’s mental illness, you don’t need to have combat experience to struggle with trauma.
When people have unresolved trauma, their environments can often trigger those traumatized feelings. Sometimes these triggers seem nonsensical or completely unexpected. If a meth user has been abusing meth to cope with unresolved trauma, environmental trauma triggers are a big potential cause of relapse.
Working through trauma is an ongoing process that will take a long time. It’s also unlikely that you can eliminate all the potential trauma triggers in your day-to-day life, even if you reduce the number of them. Individual therapy is a good place to explore your trauma, triggers, and ways of coping with traumatized feelings.
A big part of addiction treatment is learning about healthy coping mechanisms. When you have unresolved trauma, you’ll need to develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it. These might be deep breathing exercises and meditation for anxiety reduction. You might also want to journal or talk to a crisis counselor to get the feelings out of your head.
Conflict is technically a source of stress, so it could count as a subset of stressful environmental hazards. However, it’s a complex enough phenomenon to deserve its own section.
Different forms of conflict can affect a recovering addict in different ways. An argument with a distant coworker will dredge up different emotions from an argument with a close family member. The severity of the conflict will also play a role in the emotional impact.
Conflict between people has the potential to stir up negative feelings, especially when tensions are running high. Family therapists can help resolve conflict in a positive way, but a family therapist isn’t always immediately accessible. People will sometimes say hurtful things that they later wish they could take back. It’s also difficult to find peaceful conflict resolution while in the middle of the issue.
When hurtful conflict erupts, especially between an addict and their loved ones, the addict may feel as though they’ve lost part of their support system. They may feel like their loved one doesn’t care about them. Feelings of self-hatred and guilt might also be dredged up. All of these things can cause a meth addict to want to relapse.
If you’re struggling and need to talk, we have trained counselors available 24/7 at 877-978-3148.