One aspect of recovery many people worry about is relapse. Simply defined, relapse is when an individual in recovery uses a substance again in some capacity. In some cases, relapse is an isolated incident and the individuals returns to their life of sobriety soon after. In other cases, the individual may spiral into the cycle of addiction once again.
Relapse is not a rare circumstance. In fact, over 85% of previously addicted individuals will likely relapse within the first year of sobriety. Drug and alcohol addiction is without a doubt one of the hardest diseases to overcome, so the reported relapse rates are not surprising to many.
When individuals relapse, many often feel a sense of failure, shame, and/or guilt. It’s extremely important to reiterate: Relapsing does not equate to failure. Although it can be difficult to come to terms with a recent relapse, those in recovery must be reminded that taking their recovery day by day is key, and if relapse occurs, they can start again the next day.
But sometimes it isn’t that simple. The relapse may trigger a binge, which may trigger another downward spiral into addiction once again. The feelings of failure, shame, and guilt only exasperate the problem, and without the proper tools, the individual may lose everything they worked so hard to achieve.
This is why educating people about relapse prevention is crucial prior to or during treatment/aftercare. If you or anyone you love is thinking about committing to the process of recovery, relapse prevention will be one of the most important lessons learned.
With the knowledge contained here, an individual struggling with addiction will understand that their recovery will be a continuous process, even after treatment. In fact, it’s something they’re going to have to work on for the rest of their lives.
Within treatment centers, the proper motivation behind preventing relapse is widely discussed. Many times, an addicted individual ends up in rehabilitation through the efforts of a loved one. Although striving to not let down their family is motivation for many people in recovery, it’s not the sole motivation needed to transform their lives.
The best motivation comes from oneself. The motivation that they themselves want to get better and that they need to be the one to make the change. They can realize the impact their disease is having on those around them, but when they realize that their substance use is controlling their lives and they’re they only ones able to stop it, that’s when they can make the brave decision to change for him/herself.
With this motivation, preventing relapse may become an easier feat. When their self-worth and self-acceptance is positive, they’re more likely to recognize triggers that could spark a relapse. And if they do in fact relapse, they can forgive themselves far easier because they know relapsing is a part of recovery and not something to be ashamed of.
For most individuals, there are three powerful tips that are given in concerns with avoiding relapse. Though the number of tips offered isn’t limited to the following three, these are generally considered the most effective.
- Seek out professional substance use help when you begin your recovery, through it, and even afterward.
- Consider what you’re going to experience throughout your recovery and set realistically healthy goals.
- Look for the people that will benefit you the most. Whether this is family, friends, or a community of other recovering individuals.
The true mark of successful recovery is the amount of commitment one puts into it. Recovery requires a tremendous amount of commitment and hard work, but when an individual’s commitments are grounded in positive self-image, self-love, and self-acceptance, recovery can become easier day by day.
That’s not to say recovery is easy for some and difficult for others. It will be difficult regardless, and we must come to terms with that when we make the decision to become sober. We must realize that every day will be a struggle for awhile, but at the same time hold on to the notion that one day it will get easier and your life will change for the better.
Seeking Professional Help
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, individuals who seek treatment are making an effort that goes beyond stopping drug abuse. “…the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community.”
The Institute claims that people who’re properly committed to treatment not only avoid drug use after recovery, but also decrease their criminal record and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.
Within a qualified drug rehabilitation center, individuals suffering from addiction can expect to receive a treatment that correlates entirely with their situation as well as assurance for the right professional care. Being that detoxing is an important first step, it’s vital this is done under a highly trained medical staff.
Withdrawals are never easy and on occasion, can even be fatal. Under professional care, it’s assured you’ll not only rid your body of the substance, but you’ll be doing so under the most comfortable techniques known to modern medicine.
The detox is almost always followed up by a therapeutic stage in which individuals must reflect on the emotions that they’ve tied so closely together with their drug use. This stage is just as vital as detoxing. Even though the body is rid of a chemical, the mind will still have urges for it and may experience triggers. Giving insight as to why relapse is an issue to begin with.
Therapy comes in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the individual, different programs will be sought out to fit their emotional circumstances. Regardless of the individual, the goal of therapy is to relinquish those past emotions attached to drugs or alcohol and replace them with new optimism.
There are often instances where individuals seek out treatment but have preoccupations they can’t just leave behind such as family, work, or schooling. If this is your case, you might want to look into an intensive outpatient program (IOP). This program will give you all the same benefits as if you were entering a drug rehabilitation center while remaining flexible with your outside life.
Please note that Intensive Outpatient Treatment is simply one avenue to explore, and your best option to determine the correct treatment method for your circumstance is to seek a substance use evaluation from a licensed substance abuse counselor.
The importance of any treatment decision is that you’re seeking professional help. Even after treatment is taken care of, it’s always recommended to continue on with other forms of support – such as 12-step meetings, sober living, and aftercare services. A professional will always be there to help you on specific issues and unlike loved ones, they hold the opportunity to discover exact answers to your dilemmas.
Set Healthy and Realistic Objectives
If anything is guaranteed after intensive treatment, it’s that you know exactly the person you’ll be when you return to real life. When really considered, you’re about to put your body and mind through a complete change and with this comes a new onset of emotions that aren’t always so clear in the beginning stages. Another important piece of aftercare is readjusting to civilian life and avoiding people, places, or things that may trigger a relapse.
Setting unrealistic goals right away may also lead to relapse. Telling yourself you can go out with your friends to a dinner without drinking or thinking you’re able to take the same route to work that you did while in the midst of your addiction may very well trigger relapse.
Realistic objectives are different for different people. One person’s objective may include getting out of bed each day, brushing their teeth, showering, and putting on clothes that aren’t pajamas. Another person’s objective may be finding the courage to cut ties with former friends and acquantiences that enabled their addiction.
Your recovery is completely your own and the pace at which you enter back into your life is completely up to you. With a positive and healthy mindset, you’ll be automatically setting yourself up on the path of a successful recovery if you have realistic goals you can accomplish.
Keep Loved Ones Close
Family members, friends, and other close loved ones are usually the core of support for any person recovering from addiction. This comes as no surprise as these people will be the ones there for you after treatment is over and as already mentioned, your recovery goes beyond checking in and out of a treatment facility. It goes into the right kind of motivation. Loved ones can be just that.
Though professional help should always be the first course of action, it is equally as important to surround yourself with an amazing support system after intensive treatment. With the right support system, love, and proper aftercare, the chance of relapse can diminish greatly.
There will be instances where cravings come back, triggers happen, and suddenly relapse seems like a real possibility. In these instances, a loved one can be the immediate source of comfort. If the cravings continue, it’s important to speak with a substance abuse professional right away.
It must also be noted that participating in a 12-step program that lends support from others in the same place as you is also vital to maintaining sobriety. There are other community support groups that aren’t 12-step, but working the steps has proven to be highly beneficial and provides a support system when loved ones may not be enough. Even if a loved one is available for comfort, support groups have one trait loved ones don’t. That is other individuals who’ve gone through similar experiences. Therefore, experiencing similar emotions.
Remember: Recovery is not one-size-fits-all and relapse is a part of recovery. If you or somebody you love experiences a relapse, know that it does not make you a bad person and will never make you a failure. It may be viewed as a temporary setback, but never anything that defines you as a person or defines your commitment to your sobriety.
Take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
If you or anyone you know is looking for an alcohol or drug treatment program that’s right for them or you’re looking for more information on relapse and how to avoid it, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is happy to help. Please, give us a call today at (602) 535 6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here for you.