Understanding What it is Like for a Person to Relapse


The Path to Recovery

Making it through recovery treatment is one of the most rewarding feelings for a person. Gaining the confidence and courage to begin a path to recovery takes a lot for a person to do. Nothing beats the feeling of counting the days, months, and years clean, knowing that the hard work a person has put in for the recovery is paying off. It is something that is never easy for a person and can make the rest of their life more than they ever imagined.

Avoiding a relapse during recovery can be very tricky for people. Some people have abused substances for so long that they don’t know anything else in life. The life they once had has gone so far behind them they have lost hope to ever get it back, and begin to accept the life in their addiction. Addiction takes over someone’s life, every aspect of it.  While in recovery there are many things that will always temp a person to go back to their addiction. It takes strength for a person to get past these temptations. There are many things people go through to get the strength to deal with these temptations and get past them.

Learning Self-Control

During recovery addicts must learn self-control when tempted to use again. There are going to be many things that will tempt that addict. Self-control can be distractions, reminding yourself of what the consequences are and reminding yourself of how far you have come. It doesn’t matter if it has been 10 days in recovery or 10 years, a person will always come across temptations.

Loosing Self-Control and Relapsing

There might be a time where something happens in a recovering addict’s life that they were not prepared to deal with, or times may become too hard for a person and they give up. They relapse. Just because a person relapses does not mean that they weren’t trying or that they are not able to recover again. People may relapse many times before they finally get it and can recover from it. Relapsing can be shameful, embarrassing and disappointing. A person who tried to stay clean and relapsed is not proud of themselves.

What matters is what they choose to do after a relapse has occurred. It is ok to seek help again, it is ok to try again. No one is perfect and no one can fight addiction that easily! Relapsing isn’t something that someone simply chooses to do, it is simply a reality. The problem is, once it’s happened to you, it’s not so easy to face what’s happened. The tendency is to heap blame on yourself, to feel that somehow you should have been able to avoid a relapse. That’s counter-productive. There are more constructive way to face yourself after relapse.

Respond to Relapse Immediately

First, you need to act immediately. After your relapse, you can’t delay for several days or weeks. That will just compound the problem and prolong your relapse – maybe even make it worse. It’s also a mistake to think to yourself, “Oh, this is it. I’m going downhill and there’s nothing I can do about it.” That’s just not true. In fact, only you can take the steps to resume your recovery. Recognize that you slipped and double your efforts to overcome your cravings or urges. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. What’s most important is your desire to move past your slip-up and forward with your recovery.

Prepare to Make Major Changes

During treatment for addiction, you most likely worked out a game plan, a list of goals, and worked on effective coping skills. Once you entered the recovery stage, you may have become a bit overconfident in your ability to resist urges and cravings. You may have thought that you could have just one drink, or do a little bit of drugs, or gamble a set amount, or indulge your addiction in some small way. Even if you didn’t delude yourself that you could handle your urges by going slower, reducing your consumption or addictive behavior, you may have let your guard down. Perhaps this was an instance of you falling back in with friends you used to drink or do drugs with, or go gambling with, or whatever. It may be that you didn’t purge your surroundings of any temptations, which now serve as triggers.

Whatever you were doing, however, it’s obvious to you now that it didn’t work out quite like you planned. If it had, you wouldn’t have relapsed. You’ll need to make some major changes in your life now.

Some of the changes you should plan to make include making a list of the people, places and things that are dangerous to you. These are the situations that remind you or prompt the need to drink, do drugs, gamble, or engage in compulsive sexual activity, overeating, overwork or other addictive behavior. Next to each, start writing down ways that you can deal with these situations as they arise. This is your plan of attack, how you will navigate your way through the minefield of obstacles that are a threat to your sobriety.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and/or relapsing do not hesitate to call for help, there is help for everyone and it is ok to need help at any point in recovery!



One thought on “Understanding What it is Like for a Person to Relapse

  1. Alden says:

    The most important topic in this article is SELF-CONTROL. Many addicts leave treatment with the mindset of, everything has now been magically fixed because i went to a 30+ day treatment program. Many don’t put in enough effort to come up with a game plan on what routine they should integrate into their lives so they can remain sober from drugs and alcohol. Learn self-control inside the program and utilize the skills and tools you were taught. It takes some people a couple times to get it right, but you know what, keep it in your head that you got another chance to try to get clean and that you didn’t become another statistic to drugs and alcohol in this world.

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