“Those who relapse are attending powerlessness graduate school.”
Relapse. It can be a frightening word for anyone in recovery, as well as for those who love someone in recovery.
For the addict, thoughts of being rejected by friends and family, dealing with the return of the mental obsession, and feelings of shame and hopelessness can be overwhelming. For those who love the addict, life can be put on hold as soon as relapse occurs. Loved ones often deal with their own sense of powerlessness as they realize how helpless they really are.
The Positive Side of Relapse
Working in the recovery industry every day allows me to see both the bad and the good side of relapse. The good side of relapse? That’s an oxymoron, right? At least it sounds like one at first glance, except for the fact that nothing is ever wasted. What seems like a failure can turn into a lesson, and relapse can become part of the recovery journey for some.
Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of anyone’s story, but when we consider the fact that only a handful of those who need treatment actually seek it out and receive it, relapse becomes more understandable. Quality addiction treatment provides the tools necessary to live a life free from substance use, but the key component in it’s effectiveness is the willingness of the individual to use the tools provided.
Recovery is much more than a first decision to live a life free from drugs and alcohol. It is an ongoing process of growth, and in order to grow we need an understanding of what we’re facing and how to break free. Drug addiction, like any chronic health condition, requires help. An individual diagnosed with diabetes can’t just hear that news and make the decision to “not have diabetes.” There is a path to wellness that has to be walked out. This path begins with awareness of the condition, but continues on to provide the diabetic with certain tools like medicine and lifestyle changes. Too often an addict will be expected (by themselves or others) to drum up some sort of willpower and remain drug free. If you are an addict yourself or know someone who is, you’re aware that this doesn’t work very well. Armed with the same tools you had before you began using drugs doesn’t equip you for a successful, substance free life.
Key Factors in Relapse Prevention
Treatment enables individuals to counteract the deadly cycle of addiction and it’s effects on the brain and behavior. It provides the “time out” of life often necessary to kick-start the recovery process while also introducing the addict to new ways of thinking and operating. Along with the clinical side of treatment (such as medical detox and psychological therapy) there are also new habits being formed and often a real sense of community and belonging. Community is a key factor in long term sobriety.
“I never thought I’d discover a whole new way of life when I came through the doors of The Shores Recovery and Treatment Center. I knew I needed help, but I had my own ideas of what that help would look like. Along with therapy, the most important thing I learned was how to open up to others. Isolation was always my worst enemy and I never imagined I’d be able to build friendships and open up to people without the help of a substance. Now, nine months later, the community aspect of recovery is the most fulfilling part. Others see things in me that I wouldn’t recognize in myself. People care and they help me to take an honest look at where I am…Am I in relapse mode? Am I closing myself off from the suggestions of others? The recovery community I’ve found here is one of the most important components of my recovery journey. That and the spiritual awakening that took place in me while I was in treatment. I stayed for 78 days and it was truly the best decision of my life.” —Robin (former client of The Shores Treatment and Recovery)
Drug addiction includes both physiological and behavioral components. The powerful pull to return to habits and coping mechanisms that were formed through years of active addiction are difficult to change without help. At The Shores Treatment and Recovery, we take a holistic approach, which means we provide tools that address the whole person —mentally, physically and spiritually. We also look at “living in recovery” as a life long journey and equip clients and families to continue to operate in a state of constant growth.
Relapse Simplified – A Return to Old Ways of Thinking
In simplest terms, relapse and a return to active drug use is no different than the person who needed to lose 75 pounds, achieved it, and then returned to their old eating habits. Eventually, without a true lifestyle change, this person will gain that 75 pounds right back, and will most likely end up in worse health than they were before. Of course, returning to active drug addiction is far more risky than overeating…or is it? Either way we are playing with our lives, our health, our self esteem, and affecting our quality of life. We are returning to a self-defeating way of life.
The result of a drug relapse is more of an immediate risk, but both situations remind us of our true powerlessness and invite us to surrender our old way of life each day.
Today can be your new day. It can be a day in which you recognize the old habits that are trying to creep up on you and make the decision to do something about it. Make the decision to use the tools you’ve already learned, or reach out for help and gain new ones.
Relapse doesn’t have to be part of your story. But if it is, today is the day to turn it all around. Reach out. Give us a call. The caring staff at the Shores Treatment and Recovery are here for you.