A relapse, regardless of whether you believe or have been told it to be a simple, unavoidable part of recovery or not, is a setback, of that there is little doubt. In fact, it is not the relapse itself that affects your chances of a successful recovery from addiction, but how you actually respond to such an event if it happens.
“A chat with the Grim Reaper should be
enough to scare away any thought of relapse.
Wish it were that easy, but not even days
conversing with death can disintegrate
the claws of addiction.”
– Ellen Hopkins, U.S. author of “Traffick”
In truth, a successful recovery from substance addiction involves one thing and one thing only – 100& abstinence from that substance. However, it will be only be considered to be a success by yourself, the recovering addict, if your life has become a good one to be lived without it, one that has no need, or even any room, for substances. For many, sadly, that’s not the case, and relapse for them is just the next thing waiting around the corner.
I, myself, am no angel. I spent more time getting high, getting drunk, and getting the next fix than I have ever spent abstinent. Yet abstinent is what I am now, and reasonably successfully so, if the last 6 years are anything to go by. Fortunately, I was able to attend a drug addiction rehabilitation center before I accidentally overdosed, and that was, according to the physicians, the next step I was going to take. The last step, too.
Have I relapsed during my recovery? No, but, boy, have I come close. Too close. And that explains why I’m writing this, not because I’m some medically-qualified expert in the matter, but just because I’ve been where you are now – in the early stages of recovery, and concerned that my life as it was then was building up to an unavoidable event, one I couldn’t stop. Maybe, you feel that way now.
To a degree, relapses can be predicted. Failure to consider the following will make keeping to your recovery a whole lot harder, making relapse more likely:
- Sobriety has to be your top priority: If you wish to succeed, it has to be this way. A failure to commit 100% to your recovery from substance addiction makes you far more likely to succumb to relapse.
- Your sobriety needs a support system: A solid and reliable support system is essential. Once you’re no longer in treatment, their support is gone, so you must ensure something takes its place.
- Stop for yourself – No-one else: Recovery is a personal thing – and it should be all about you. Becoming abstinent for somebody else, seeking recovery without yourself as the reason for it, well… that’s simply not going to work.
- Prepare for your post-treatment life: Not only do you need a support group in place, but you also need to draw up a relapse prevention plan. Understanding what can cause relapses is one thing, but identifying potential hurdles to your sobriety, eg, triggers, out in the real world, your real world is vital.
The aim of this article, however, is not just about how to avoid relapse – importantly, it’s about what to do if you experience one. So, here you are: “4 Important Steps You Must Take Now If You Have Relapsed.” Please, read on…