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5 Things You Need to Know About Relapse

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

People in recovery and their families are often terrified of relapse. Understanding the following 5 points may help.

1. Relapse is common. Although relapses are not inevitable, they are common. Many people have one or more relapses before achieving long-lasting sobriety or abstinence. This does not mean the end of efforts toward abstinence and recovery. The person needs to get back into treatment and the family needs to continue attending a support group, professional counseling, or both.

2. Work together to prevent relapse. People in recovery may have frequent urges to drink or use drugs, and feel guilty about it, even though these urges are a normal part of recovery. It’s important to work together to anticipate high-risk situations (such as a party where alcohol will be served) and plan ways to prevent them.

3. Relapse can happen during good times, too. Sometimes relapse occurs when the person is doing well with their recovery. He or she feels healthy, confident, and/or “cured” and believes that he or she is ready to go back to casual, regular or “controlled” use of drugs or alcohol. The person may remember the honeymoon period of their use (even though it may have been long ago) — where his or her use didn’t cause problems — and may want to return to that place. But this is often impossible since addiction changes the physical makeup of the brain and the person is recovery is no longer able to use drugs or alcohol in a controlled fashion.

4. If relapse occurs. Medical professionals, particularly those who specialize in substance use disorders, are an extremely important asset during a time of relapse. They can help the person learn techniques for containing feelings, focusing on the present, and making use of support from others. Relying on group support from Twelve Step programs, engaging in prayer or meditation, and finding other ways to stay on an even keel can also be extremely helpful.

5. Learn from relapse. Experts have found that a relapse can serve as an important opportunity for the recovering person and other family members to identify what triggered the relapse in the first place — and find ways to avoid it in the future.

Posted by  |  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Drugs, Family Therapy, getting help, parenting, Recovery, Recovery & Relapse, relapse, Substance Abuse, Twelve Step, Uncategorized

6 Comments on “5 Things You Need to Know About Relapse”

Elizabeth O'Connell says:
March 21st, 2013 at 9:39 am

I am a member of AA and I have learned that you should not contain your feelings. Doing so will cause you to relapse and make your program invalid.

Mary Smith says:
March 24th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Excellent and simply stated.

jane doe says:
March 24th, 2013 at 8:45 pm

What if the person who relapsed is indigent… What does going back to treatment look like for them?

christy mcmullen says:
March 27th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Very very well put. Godbless love Christy

Kathy says:
July 25th, 2013 at 12:44 am

My daughter started her journey when our family did an intervention when she was just 22. She went to rehab grudgingly, went to a halfway house for a few months until she hooked up with a tattoo artist that she went to . Moved in with this abusive controlling man and had a baby. It was a bad experience and heartbreaking. He had her and another woman living with him and they each had a child within a month of each other. Needless to say she relapsd, went to treatment again and finished the 6 months at half way house. The baby daddy showed up within a week and convinced her he wanted to be a family. More abuse and another relapse of course. She moved to another town, another rehab. Got pregnant, stayed sober a year and when this baby daddy started seeing someone else while she was pregnant, she relapsed again when the child was just 2 months old. Back to rehab!! Now she relapsed within a few days after getting out and the alcoholism has progressed to her still walking and talking at a .36 level. Now a different treatment center! 30 days and another relapse shortly after she left. Again to the rehab center. This is now 6 stays at rehab!!! in 4 years!! She has lost her children. She knows that if she keeps drinking she will die and the last 3 rehabs, she has admitted herself. This is killing me to watch!!!!! I go to al anon which helps tremendously and try to be supportive of her efforts but it is very difficult to feel any chance of recovery for her.I try to pretend that I believe in her . the horrible thought of ” if you are going to kill yourself just get it over with” has crossed my mind and I feel so guilty that I have thought that.This is the most heartbreaking experience I have ever gone through in my life because it goes on and on. My husband made th statement that it feels like the movie ” groundhog day”.. Is that many relapses unusual? I just dont know what to think and wonder if I should give up all hope

Tanya says:
October 4th, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I am so sorry that you are going through this. I understand the pain and the guilt that you carry each and every day. I am glad that you are not alone in daily fight not to let the drug take you down too.

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