Fear of relapse is understandably high among recovering addicts. With professional treatment, people come to understand addiction as a disease, rather than a personal shortcoming or a short-term problem that can be permanently cured. Also known as substance use disorder, addiction requires lifelong efforts to stay the course. Even with effective addiction treatment, those in recovery can still experience temptation, cravings, and stressors that trigger the urge to use. Fortunately, when relapse does occur, it doesn’t reset recovery back to its very beginnings. In fact, relapse is actually considered a part of the recovery process. Viewing it any differently isn’t conducive to bouncing back, renewing important commitments to sobriety and good health, and avoiding a total downward spiral. More importantly, considering relapse as a total reset of the recovery process instills feelings of shame and hopelessness that make it infinitely harder for people to stop. Relapse as a single-use event often underlines the importance of staying sober, keeping in touch with accountability partners, and continuing to take part in post-treatment relapse prevention services.
Relapse is rarely an “in-the-moment” decision. For most people, relapse instead occurs in phases. A person might start wondering whether they can use substances in a more limited and controlled manner, and may even begin justifying short-term or moderated use by highlighting their physical or emotional struggles, and lauding the perceived benefits of using. People who relapse are often failing to take good care of themselves. They may be spending too much time alone, missing recovery meetings, and not getting enough rest or good nutrition. Gradual changes in their everyday habits slowly break down their resolve. When relapse is seen as a personal failure, or a total break from past work in recovery, the opportunity to recognize mistakes, and to identify necessary forms of support or additional treatment is missed.
Maintaining a Healthy Mindset Post-Relapse
Just as there are many reasons why people become addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are also many reasons why they stay that way. Sadly, countless people who live with the stress, loss, and heartache caused by substance used disorder don’t feel as though they are actually worth of recovery. Guilt and shame can keep these individuals from taking critical steps towards helping themselves. That’s why many addiction treatment programs place a strong focus on rebuilding patients’ self-esteem, and on helping them recognize their worth. When relapse happens, a person’s ability to recognize their own value can be key for preventing a total return to old behaviors. Negative thoughts and self-deprecation can keep people trapped in a relapse phase. Moreover, just as these things prevent users from seeking initial treatment, they can also keep them from seeking essential relapse support.
Relapse is sometimes the result of excessively high confidence. As months and even years go by without using, recovering addicts may begin to consider themselves as being “cured” of their addictions, and no longer in need of outside support. This is why rehab professionals make a concerted effort to help patients recognize substance use disorder as both a disease and a lifelong battle. When extreme confidence is felt, it’s important for people to remember that the safest and surest way to maintain their sobriety is by never letting themselves get trapped in isolation, and by always having support services or support people who can help them walk back from temptation.
Considering relapse as a total reset of recovery can be physically dangerous as well. After ridding itself of toxins and relearning how to function without substances, the body invariably has far lower levels of tolerance than it once did. As such, even with just a single-use event, the risk of overdose is incredibly high. Moreover, when relapsing addicts feel ashamed and defeated, and return full-force to their old behaviors, they often attempt to use substances in the same high volumes and potency levels that they did before. Thus, it is far better and infinitely safer for people to recognize relapse as a sometimes unavoidable part of getting better. With this mindset, single-use events can be used to strategically refine and expand their ongoing recovery plans, and short-term substance isn’t use likely to spiral out of control.
Although relapse is serious, the right mindset can keep a temporary setback from becoming a permanent one. More importantly, when addicts do not allow themselves to get trapped in a spiral of shame, guilt, and regret, they can also avoid the increased likelihood of overdose. If you or someone you love has recently relapsed, finding the right post-treatment support can make all the difference. With extended or enhanced treatment, and renewed resolve, recovering addicts can limit the effects that events have on their lives. Fortunately, we can help you find the right ongoing support and relapse prevention programs for your needs. Call us today at 833-680-0165.