It is heartbreaking when someone you know has a relapse after some period of successful recovery. The hope generated by the period of sobriety is smashed and the pain comes flooding back. it is disheartening and frustrating. We tend to second guess our future and become angry and resentful. We start to proceed through the stages of grief once again and wonder why this happened.
Here are five things you need to know about relapse courtesy of The Partnership for Drug Free Kids
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.