Nowadays, the medical fraternity and people, in general, accept addiction as a chronic disease. Like all chronic diseases, it can take some time to find a treatment that works effectively to keep it at bay.
For example, in 25% of cases, people undergoing treatment for diabetes undergo relapses despite their doctors’ best efforts.
So, if you’re an addict and you’ve experienced a relapse, there’s no reason to throw your hands in the air and abandon all attempts at getting back on the bandwagon.
Relapse can be an important part of your recovery. Here’s why recovery and relapse often go hand in hand.
The Relationship Between Addiction Recovery and Relapse
If you’ve been fortunate enough to attend a treatment center to kickstart your recovery, you’ve likely emerged from this sheltered place enveloped in a pink cloud of good intentions.
However, before long the pressures of daily life start to build up once again, your old demons start to raise their ugly heads, and your familiar haunts beckon. The sweet release that your drug of choice once again seems like a tempting way to escape from these ghosts of your past and no one needs to know right?
The next thing you know, you’re right back where you were before your treatment. Alone, sad, and guilty as anything. You’ve relapsed and all your hard work at the treatment center was a waste of time and energy. Stop right there.
It’s important to see relapse for what it is – a mistake. The best thing you can do about a mistake is to learn from it.
So, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on track as fast as you can. Relapse is a common occurrence among addicts, but it’s not the end of your recovery.
In many ways, a relapse can be an important learning curve for addicts in recovery. Sometimes it’s exactly the boost you need to steel your resolve once again.
What Can You Learn From Relapse?
It’s important to guard against relapse with every inch of self-control you can muster. After all, a relapse could be one bridge too far for your mind and body.
Try to learn from this mistake and use it to help you in your recovery. Some of the things you can learn from a relapse include:
- Triggers such as people, places, and things
- Your weak areas with regard to handling stressors
- You can’t have ‘just one’
- A need to deal more fully with underlying emotional or mental health issues
- The necessity for more intensive rehabilitation or a different type of treatment
- A need to attend outpatient treatment more frequently
One of the main contributors to relapse is a sense of complacency. When you feel like you’ve finally ‘got this’ with regard to staying clean and sober, that when you should be on your guard.
Recovery’s a process that will continue your whole life, and you need to keep up with the good habits and routines you’ve learned while in treatment.
How to Avoid Relapse
Although you should try to view a slip in your sobriety as a mere speedbump on the road to recovery, don’t take it too lightly.
Some addicts who relapse never return to treatment and many lose their lives in the process. Don’t be a statistic, get your recovery back on track as fast as you can.
It all starts with an awareness of yourself. Take note of your behavior and thoughts. These are some of the things to consider:
- Are you having more frequent thoughts of using your drug of choice again?
- Are you considering alternative forms of escape?
- Have you been sleeping and eating enough?
- When last did you get any exercise?
- Are you feeling withdrawn and avoiding people?
- Are you experiencing bad moods or bouts of depression?
All these things can be subtle signs that things are going wrong in your recovery and they can rapidly escalate into something more serious. Get out of your head and get more fully involved in your recovery program the moment you notice any of these signs.
While you’re surrounded by fellow recovering addicts during in- or outpatient treatment, it’s easy to stay on track. You’ve always got someone to support and encourage you.
In the real world, you need to rely on your own resources. It’s vitally important to remember that these fellows are only a phone call away at all times.
Keep up your attendance at group therapy meetings, get a sponsor, and attend individual counseling if need be. Stay in touch with your sober friends by arranging outings and get-togethers with them.
You’ll all benefit from these interactions.
What to Do if You Relapse
The first thing you should do in the event of relapse is to make sure you’re okay. Get medical attention if needed and get in touch with a supportive person to help guide you back on track.
Admitting your failings is the first step towards getting on with your recovery. It’s up to you to take responsibility for your actions, be grateful that you’ve got another chance, and pursue recovery more wholeheartedly than ever before.
The Next Chapter
When you’re an addict, you may go through years of recovery and relapse before you’ve mastered the art of the straight and narrow.
It’s important to view a relapse as part of the journey rather than the end of the road. If you’d like some more advice on how to find and maintain recovery, read some more of our blogs on the subject.
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