Even people who have spent years free of addictive substances fear the dreaded relapse, where a single bad decision could undo years of work toward drug and alcohol recovery. There are many temptations that can pull a recovering addict towards relapse, only increasing how necessary it is to stay committed every day to treatment and healthy choices. Knowing the most common causes of relapse is a powerful tool for being able to recognize and resist them.
Patients often feel that they can handle a small number of drugs or alcohol without risking a relapse. They assume that, if they don’t take enough drugs to get high or drink enough alcohol to get drunk, then they will still be able to remain in control. This, however, is almost always not the case. The very nature of addiction implies that the addict cannot control their intake of drugs or alcohol. Were they able to moderate their usage, they would not be addicts. Therefore, even a small amount of substance can lead them into a full relapse.
Others reintegrate into an environment they have linked in their memory to substance abuse, providing a constant reminder, and temptation, to use again. Friends that the addict made while under the influence may pressure them into using again since they found the addict fun when they were high or drunk. Sometimes, a job that an addict was able to do while high may seem prohibitively difficult while under the stress of trying to remain sober, leading them to use again to be able to perform the job the way they are used to.
Since recovery is a difficult and stressful proposition, addicts may become depressed and demoralized. Knowing that abstinence from drugs and alcohol is a daily struggle, and knowing how difficult it can be, they may assume that they are hopeless and have no chance of staying sober. In face of this crippling self-doubt, they may start using just so they will not feel as bad about themselves.
Does this sound like you or someone you know? Contact the Ridge to learn about options for drug and alcohol recovery.
Families do not always understand the nature of addiction. Instead of supporting their loved one as they undergo a monumentally difficult task of overcoming a brain-altering disease, they become resentful or disappointed in them. This seems logical to someone who does not understand addiction—the addict seems to have betrayed their family by choosing to take drugs or drink too much. Their resentfulness creates a stressful, unpleasant atmosphere that makes the addict feel poorly about themselves, and therefore, their chances of recovery. This low self-confidence often is confirmed in the form of the relapse.
There’s always the chance, though, that addicts simply do not commit to their treatment program. Both inpatient and outpatient programs rely on the commitment and effort of their patients in order to be fully effective. If a patient stops coming to outpatient meetings or aftercare, they are removing a powerful source of support from their recovery efforts. This often has exactly the result one would imagine—a relapse.
One of the strongest weapons against relapse is the knowledge that the road to recovery is a difficult challenge every day. Luckily, many outpatient programs exist to help addicts learn to stay sober even in the face of all these temptations to relapse. Inpatient programs also offer aftercare, to ensure that patients continue on their road to recovery even after leaving residential care. Family education programs, which educate families on how to accept and love their addicted family member, and how to provide a safe, supportive home environment, can also greatly improve an addict’s chances for recovery. These tools are an addict’s best bets for continued sobriety, and with enough education and commitment, can help them keep relapse nothing more than an idea.