Coping with Relapse
Relapse means using again after being sober for a period of time. If you are in recovery from addiction, relapse is a fear you face every day. Each day is a new opportunity to live a successfully sober life, but it is also a chance to slide backward. As an addict in recovery you have to be aware of the possibility of relapse after rehab, but know that you can come back from it. Relapse happens to many people and it doesn’t have to mean failure. Use it as a learning experience and come away stronger than ever in your recovery.
How Many People Relapse After Rehab?
Addiction is a chronic illness. This means it is a disease that never really goes away. It can’t be cured. Addiction isn’t the only chronic disease. People suffering with high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and other medical conditions face some of the same struggles that you have with addiction. With a chronic illness you have to be prepared to receive treatment for the rest of your life. With treatment you can control your disease, but you can’t cure it.
Relapse is a part of every chronic disease. Someone with diabetes may relapse if she strays from her diet and experiences a resurgence of symptoms. A person with high blood pressure who stops taking his medication may have a relapse and see his blood pressure rise. According to statistics, addicts relapse at similar rates as people with other chronic conditions. Close to 60 percent of addicts in recovery will relapse at least once.
Why do People Relapse?
Addicts in recovery relapse for a variety of reasons, but part of the explanation is the chronic nature of addiction. If you fail to keep up with your treatment, you run the risk of having a relapse. Of course, there are plenty of individual reasons why someone might relapse and start using after a period of sobriety. Often there is a trigger that causes the relapse. It could be a traumatic event, a stressful time at work or in a relationship, a health problem or pressure from old friends.
What to do After Relapse
It is important to be prepared for a relapse. Know that it is possible and that it doesn’t mean you are weak or a failure. Most addicts will use again, and dealing with relapse is how you get back on track and sober again. The best thing you can do after a relapse is to go back to treatment. If you can afford to go back to rehab, you should. Otherwise, start up therapy sessions or begin attending support group meetings again. It is also important that you rely on your supportive friends and family to stand by you and hold you accountable after a relapse.
Relapse is a part of addiction for most people. You should strive to avoid having one, but if you do relapse, consider it a setback and not a total failure. If you can recognize the mistake, get back to treatment and rely on your support system, you can get sober again.