Why Do I Keep Using Meth? Ways to Stay Clean

You’ve gone through recovery, and things are starting to fall back into place. But for one reason or the other, you slip and end up using meth. So, you start over again, only to find yourself in what feels like square one – using meth, yet again.

So, now, you can’t help but wonder why this is happening. Why you keep using meth despite your desire and effort to quit. Well, if it’s any consolation, you are not alone.

Many people who struggle with meth addiction end up relapsing even after rehabilitation. According to the National Institute of Drug Use, 40 to 60% of people in recovery end up relapsing.

After a relapse, you may experience feelings of regret or shame. You may also feel like throwing in the towel and giving into your addiction instead of fighting the desire to use. Depending on how long you’ve been using, you may suffer from meth mouth and this can also worsen your feelings of shame.

While it’s devastating, you should know that relapse doesn’t mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean the rehab you underwent was unsuccessful or negate your previous efforts to stay clean. But it also doesn’t mean you should take advantage of the situation and continue using.

Why does relapse happen?

Your relapse has to do with neural pathways. A pathway forms when you do something right. A pathway also forms when you do something wrong, like use crystal meth.

Human beings build habits this way, both good and bad. So, the reason you keep using meth is that you’re likely going to slip back into existing neural pathways. Let’s break this down further.

Causes of relapse

Studies show that the initial target of highly addictive drugs like meth is the brain’s reward circuit. The reward circuit registers essential experiences and events and their adaptive value. Then it provides incentives for actions.

This reward process triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a feel-good hormone that tells the brain to do it again. When used habitually, meth depletes the supply of dopamine and interferes with the feedback between different brain parts that coordinate desires with expectations and priorities.

But these changes are not necessarily the problem. Quitting meth use temporarily can be easy. You can go for days, weeks, months, or even years without meth. What makes permanent recovery challenging is a drug-induced change that creates lasting memories.

Your brain already knows the rewarding experience that comes from drug use. After a period of use, your environment becomes marked with cues or reminders of the reward. This learning is referred to as behavioral conditioning. And since methamphetamine addiction weakens your self-control and ability to make the right decision, you’re likely to keep using even when you know that a reward isn’t coming.

As you’ve learned from support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous, it’s the first drink that gets you drunk. So, a small dose of crystal meth serves as an effective cue. But places, things, and people, too, can be cues associated with meth.

An animal struggling with substance abuse will slip back to using when it goes back to the cage where it first developed the addiction. For people, triggers could be environment, the sight of paraphernalia, mental health issues, peers and so on.

Withdrawal symptoms are also a common reason many methamphetamine users relapse. Symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, sleepiness, depression, psychosis, meth cravings, etc., may linger on for weeks or months, causing relapse.

Getting back on the road to recovery

Irrespective of how committed you are to lifelong sobriety or how diligently you pursue recovery, there’s a chance of relapse. The National Institutes of Health study notes that about 40-60% relapse within a month or more of treatment. Another 70 -90% will relapse at least once.

But the good news is that the risk diminishes with time. Extended abstinence does predict long-term recovery, according to an eight-year study on nearly 1200 addicts. In fact, if you can make it to five years of sobriety, then your chance of relapse is less than 15%.

Ways to stay clean

Get help from a reputable addiction treatment center

Recovery for meth addiction needs a holistic meth treatment plan that consists of detox, therapy, and counseling. Depending on the circumstances recovery may also include medical advice. Meth is one of the hardest drugs to overcome. But treatment facilities in central Texas exist to help people like you regain control over their lives.

Such facilities will also address underlying issues that cause the relapse. For instance, they may offer family therapy that helps your family members to understand that relapse is not a sign of weakness or lack of morals. They will also offer mental health services to address psychological issues that may cause relapse.

Know the triggers of relapse and avoid them

Understanding the triggers of relapse and having a plan for those triggers are the first steps toward prevention. Triggers include things like:

 

Create new habits

Old habits will most certainly lead you back to addiction. So, you want to come up with new ones that will help you grow into the person you want to become. You can try out a new hobby, take up a new class, exercise, etc. Trying a new activity gives you something to look forward to. It also reduces the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that may lead to relapse.

Like other chronic diseases such as asthma and heart disease, treatment for drug addiction isn’t a cure. It only allows you to counteract the disruptive effects of addiction on your brain and behavior and regain control of your life. But with these tips, you should be able to manage your addiction and relapse problems successfully.

How Can Relapse Be a Part of Drug Recovery?

There’s a lot to feel good about when your loved one goes through an arduous recovery journey and then comes out clean and sober. Sadly, even after rehab though, your loved one may relapse at some point. Relapse doesn’t happen to everyone in recovery, but it does happen to many people. That’s why newer schools of thought on addiction feel that the painful occurrence of relapse is actually a very important part of the sobriety journey. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of those recovering from substance use disorders will relapse during their path to recovery. This should help put the struggle of your loved one doing illegal drugs into perspective, that they aren’t alone.

Addiction is a chronic disease or mental illness whose nature is a barrier to sobriety. Your loved one, like other patients, faces a consistently high risk of relapse because addiction alters the brain’s function and structure. Alcohol and drug use trigger dopamine production in the brain’s reward pathway. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers and emotional responses. These changes influence the way the brain prioritizes what’s important.

The brain of a patient who has developed an addiction recognizes substance use as important – even more than survival. That’s partly why those struggling with addiction take risks to continue abusing substances. Addiction also affects the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain that identifies issues and plans solutions. So when a person relapses, it’s not because they are weak or lack morals, but because of something that’s way beyond their control. And even after treatment, some of these changes might persist.

What is relapse? 

Relapse is when someone goes back to using drugs or alcohol after a period of sobriety. The person may “slip up” and have a drink (or use a drug) and then stop again. Slips are hardly seen as relapses, but they can trigger stronger cravings for harder drug use or more alcohol. On the other hand, full relapse is when the person in recovery intentionally seeks drugs or alcohol and no longer cares for their treatment.

Is addiction an incurable disease?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States indicates that people in addiction recovery have a 40 to 60% chance of relapse. This puts addiction relapse at the same level as other chronic conditions like hypertension and asthma, which have a 50 to 70% relapse rate.

According to NIDA, addiction has no cure. But it can be managed successfully. Like other chronic illnesses, there’s medication to address the problem. However, the patient may need to go through lifestyle changes, routine maintenance, and checkups to prevent relapse. They also have to learn new ways of thinking. All in all, relapse is not failure. It only shows that it’s time to reinstate, adjust or try out a new treatment.

Relapse as part of the recovery process

Addiction is a chronic brain disease with biological, behavioral, emotional, physical, and social aspects. It is characterized by an inability to control drug or alcohol use. The chronic nature of addiction makes relapse part of the healing process as opposed to failure. As mentioned earlier, drug addiction disrupts brain circuitry and causes dependency. At this point, one is bound to experience side effects like drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Unless they use their substance of choice, they may not feel “normal.” Relapse may seem like an excellent way to get back to “normalcy,” combat intense cravings, and relieve withdrawal symptoms. That’s why relapse can be a form of self-medication.

Drug relapse is a common part of the recovery process. When it happens and is handled correctly, it can strengthen one’s commitment to long-term sobriety. Recovery is the journey of maintaining long-term sobriety, reaching new goals, and facing life with new, healthier strategies. A hitch on the road doesn’t mean that all is lost. Yes, it might feel overwhelming – but with the right help, your loved one can get back on the right track.

Strategies to avoid relapse or mitigate its effects

More than half of the people in recovery relapse. But the fact that it is common doesn’t mean that you should not try to prevent it. An addiction relapse not only undoes the hard work, but it’s also potentially life-threatening. Relapsing can result in binging that can even lead to overdose. Here are some strategies to help prevent relapse or mitigate its effects.

Reaching out for help

People in recovery often feel humiliated and devastated when they slip or relapse. So, the last thing you want to do is reprimand them or come out as judgmental. You also don’t want to leave them to their own fate. Instead, try to encourage them to go back to their support network or treatment. It doesn’t matter how many times one relapses. In fact, experts agree that one is likely to have a successful long-term addiction recovery when there is more repetition of positive reinforcing habits.

Attending long-term treatment programs

Recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is not a quick fix. A single medication or a month of therapy may not guarantee a clean life. Often, one may need to engage in intensive long-term treatment, accompanied by continual support for a better outcome. A study with 1000+ addiction patients discovered that relapse rates reduced for every nine weeks a person spent in treatment. Sustained recovery also increased in the study for participants who had ongoing treatment with aftercare.

Identifying and managing triggers

Treatment programs integrate therapies that teach patients how to cope with internal and external stressors that may trigger a relapse. Mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, and mood changes tend to co-occur with substance abuse. When someone in recovery gets anxious or stressed, they may crave, think about, and eventually use substances. Triggers can be specific – like certain places or people, or very general – like hanging around people who are using. Evidence-based therapies help those in recovery recognize their personal relapse triggers and even train them to cope.

Lifestyle changes

Managing triggers is a great relapse prevention strategy. But you also want to encourage your loved one to make positive changes over the long term to build a healthier life. They can learn and use healthy coping mechanisms for negative emotions: recognize and manage mental issues: and develop positive activities like meditation, exercise, or art.

More Than Rehab is here to help. We have decades of experience in treating addiction, from the root-causes, to the after effects people experience once they become sober. If you, or a loved one needs help with their addiction, please don’t hesitate to call us! We are available 24/7.

888-249-2191

Why High Lumen Lights Help Fight Relapse During Winter

Being in recovery from a substance abuse disorder can often be hard enough, especially in the first year of sobriety. Unfortunately, relapse rates for those who are new to recovery can sometimes be as high as 85%. Recent statistics taken from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicate 19.7 million people suffered from a substance abuse disorder of some kind in our country. Further research shows that just in 2019, 9.2 million people aged 18-25 were diagnosed with at least one other co-occurring mental health disorder alongside having a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, at least 50 percent of people with mental health disorders will also suffer from an addiction as well. With the winter season in full swing, we thought we would talk about the use of high lumen lights during the winter to help reduce the likelihood of a relapse.

Co-occurring mental health disorders and dual diagnosis

There has long been a strong link between mental health and rates of addiction. Suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder or dual diagnosis, while also trying to lead a new, healthy life of sobriety can sometimes present its own set of challenges. With each seasonal change, different weather patterns affect our bodies and mind. The most difficult seasonal change seems to occur during the winter months where long, cold days affect over half of America. The colder temperatures and less exposure to sunlight have a massive, direct impact on the serotonin and melatonin production in our brains and our bodies.

Melatonin and Serotonin are both neurotransmitters that play a role in many aspects of our lives. For example, melatonin helps you get to sleep while serotonin helps you get up and feel awake the next day. Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”, some common symptoms people may experience during cold, winter days are:

While many people will experience some symptoms during cold weather, for others, the seasonal changes affect them more dramatically.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and addiction

It is estimated that roughly 10% of the population in our country will suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, while at least 20% of people who suffer from SAD also have a substance abuse disorder. SAD is a form of major depression that affects people during seasonal changes, affecting some people nearly half the year, but most commonly it occurs during the winter months. Many people who struggle with this often do not seek treatment, attempting to self-medicate instead. Some common signs that someone may be struggling with SAD, or major depression with seasonal pattern, include:

These are just a few of the symptoms someone may experience with major depression or SAD. Oftentimes, the symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD are overlooked because people do not understand what the person is going through. Seasonal depression and other mental health issues need to be taken seriously as they can severely impact the state of someone's sobriety and recovery from an addiction.

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As you can see, there are many reasons why someone may relapse during the winter months. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve the symptoms associated with the biochemical changes that occur to our brains and bodies during the changing of seasons. Even with the joys of the holiday season, this most commonly occurs due to less sunlight, colder temperatures, and shorter days.

Therapeutic benefits of high lumen lights

One of the best ways to help combat these symptoms is by using high lumen light therapy, and seeking treatment from a medical health professional if needed of course!

Lumens are a measure of how bright a light is, so it would make sense that lamps with high lumen are some of the best for light therapy for treating symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD, helping to fight relapse among those in recovery. High lumen lights used for the treatment of SAD are specialized lights that are very bright and they essentially mimic the effects of the sun. This makes high lumen light therapy a great natural option that helps restore the biochemical balance of our brain and bodies which in turn helps to alleviate the symptoms associated with not getting enough sunlight. In a way, it helps to trick our bodies into thinking the days are longer again.

Before trying high lumen lights as a form of therapy, patients are recommended to get a checkup from your eye doctor before trying treatment. One of the best things about light therapy is that it can practically be done from anywhere, as long as you have enough time set aside to reap the full benefits. Here are some tips to get the most out of light therapy:

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These are just a few tips that can help increase the impact of light therapy. Keep in mind it may take around 30 days to notice any effects from using the lightbox. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of SAD then please reach out to a medical health professional right away. The staff and family at More Than Rehab are more than happy to help those who are struggling with a co-occurring disorder and feel as though they are at risk of relapse because of the symptoms of SAD or the winter time blues. Please give us a call today.

888-249-2191