Have you been asking yourself this question recently? Or maybe you have been asking yourself this question regarding a loved one, co-worker, neighbor, etc. Whatever the case may be, it is important to understand that relapse is actually a normal part of the recovery process.
If you have successfully completed an addiction treatment program, went on to experience a period of sobriety, and then ended up relapsing, you are not alone. Relapsing is not uncommon at all, and it in no way means that you are a failure. It is important to know that there are numerous resources available to help you and that hope is always—always—an option.
The way that you react at this particular point in time after a relapse is critical to how you recover. In this time, forgiveness is important—for yourself or for your loved one, depending on the circumstances. While you may be angry at yourself or your loved one for the recent relapse, it is crucial that you learn to forgive for the situation. This type of attitude is far more productive in the long run, and it is the type of attitude that will help you or your love done persevere when it comes to maintaining their sobriety down the road.
Did you know that roughly 40 to 60 percent of individuals who maintain their sobriety throughout rehabilitation, treatment, and recovery will experience a relapse of heavy use, while 70 to 90 percent of individuals will experience a relapse and use again at least one time. Within the medical field, relapses were once treated as uncommon, but this has changed as a result of the advances in addiction therapy and behavioral science.
Unfortunately, many addicts suffer stigmatization in society as drug fiends who are hopeless or are treated under the perception that they are bad people because of their past substance use. However, people within the addiction treatment industry work hard to advocate for a much different perspective on the issue. Addiction is a disease that is 100 percent curable, and therefore, it could be compared to the relapse rates of individuals with medical problems like asthma, high blood pressure, or diabetes. The rate of relapse with medical diseases like these is very similar to those with a substance abuse disorder. Treating substance abuse disorders as a medical condition can help to lessen the stigma that is associated with alcohol and drug abuse.
With the intense overdose epidemic in the U.S., it is crucial that we all begin treating it as a serious medical condition rather than a criminal activity that is only reserved for the “bad people” in the country’s society. Most of you that are reading this article right now know someone who is struggling or has struggled with some form of substance abuse. Deep down inside of that individual is still a good person, despite their alcohol or drug addiction.
Drug Tolerance Levels Change
It’s important to understand that many people who relapse will overdose initially because they assume that they are able to take as much of the drug as they were able to prior to submitting to detoxification and the period of sobriety. However, the body is unable to handle as much of the drug, despite the fact that they had built up a tolerance over the period of abusing the substance. This is because that tolerance level changed throughout the recovery process, and the “usual dosage” likely won’t be able to be tolerated, potentially resulting in the person’s death—your death, possibly. So, please, please, keep this in mind as you recover. Most individuals do not intend on having a relapse, but it can occur so you should be knowledgeable about what to expect.
In the end, it is up to you—the person recovering—to want to make changes in your life that will assist you in maintaining your sobriety. Sobriety is a complicated path to navigate, but there are several things that can be done to help you keep temptation to relapse out of the way.
5 Risks to Avoid While Recovering
RISK #1: AVOID DRUG-RELATED TRIGGERS
Many individuals in recovery are tempted to relapse when they head back to their old crew, old hangouts, etc.—previous connections they had to drugs or alcohol. For some people, even just the sight of drugs or alcohol can be enough to put them into relapse. Most addiction treatment programs will help you in the process of identifying your triggers so that you can formulate a strategic plan to avoid them after rehab.
RISK #2: BE PARTICULAR CAUTIOUS FOR THE FIRST THREE MONTHS
More often than not, most relapses will occur during the first 90 days once rehab ends. Keep in mind that addiction does not stop once you have successfully completed the detox. Instead, addiction has the ability to shape your behaviors and thoughts for the remainder of your life. Luckily, the longer you are able to remain sober, the easier it will become for you to avoid relapsing and returning to your past substance abuse ways.
RISK #3: LOOK FOR HELP IN A STRUCTURED ENVIRONMENT
For individuals who engage in some type of organized support group following alcohol or drug detox, the rates of relapse are considerably lower. 12-step or relapse prevention programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are good at helping individuals at maintaining their sobriety and providing them with personal assistance when they feel the urge to use.
RISK #4: BEGIN FORMING HEALTHY LIFESTYLE HABITS
Research has shown that even a small amount of exercise can assist in the reduction of withdrawal symptoms and cravings for addicts who are in the recovery process. Thinking healthy thoughts and eating healthy foods are vital to developing and also rebuilding self-confidence, which is necessary in maintaining sobriety. Taking control over your emotions and developing strategic coping mechanisms that will help you deal with hard-to-handle situations can significantly boost your chances of success in recovery and maintaining your sobriety.
RISK #5: DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP IF RELAPSE OCCURS
If you do relapse, it is important that you understand there are numerous resources available, ready, and willing to help you break and end that cycle of addiction. In some cases, and for some people, treatment is necessary more than once before a patient is able to experience a fully recovery from addiction. Keep in mind that relapse is completely normal and you should not be ashamed if it happens to you. Your family and friends will be happy that you were upfront and honest about what happened and that you are seeking help for it. Eventually, the repeated attempts at addiction treatment will work, and you will develop the desire for a sober lifestyle.
For more information, reach out to us at Shadow Mountain Recovery.