A big part of recovery focuses on addiction relapse prevention because this is the greatest threat to a person’s sobriety. The worry of relapse will always be present, whether an individual has been in recovery for one month, one year, or ten years. The reality is that there is no cure for addiction; it is an illness that can be treated and managed, but never cured.
It is hard to believe that some people would consider returning to the substance that once threatened to destroy their lives, but as time passes, the bad memories often fade. Some people find themselves in a situation where they convince themselves that they are better and that they could easily manage one or two drinks occasionally or have drugs now and again. Upon reaching this stage, they are already half way towards an addiction relapse.
Reasons to Work Hard on Sobriety
If you have been through a programme of rehabilitation for a drug or alcohol addiction, you probably already know the importance of relapse prevention. Over time, though, you could be in danger of becoming complacent, which could easily put your sobriety at risk.
Unless you work hard to maintain your sobriety, you could easily return to drugs or alcohol, particularly when faced with a difficult situation. After all, this was how you used to deal with stress and or emotional pain.
If you have been in recovery for some time, you will know the benefits of being sober. Imagine how you would feel knowing that this had all been a waste of time. If you are careless with your recovery, you could end up back where you started, never again getting the opportunity to recover again. It is, therefore, vital that you are aware of the triggers that could cause an addiction relapse so that you can deal with them if and when they do arise.
Common Triggers for Addiction Relapse
There are many common triggers for addiction relapse including self-pity, over-confidence, boredom, complacency, loneliness, and frustration. Those who are bored or lonely may become frustrated with their recovery and then convince themselves that they were better off when drinking or taking drugs. Others begin to think that perhaps they didn’t really have a problem with drugs or alcohol at all and that their issues stemmed from something else, such as a mental health issue.
Self-pity is also common among recovering addicts, and this emotion puts them at risk of relapse. Many think of themselves as victims of their circumstances and might blame others for the situation they find themselves in. If they are unwilling to deal with the real cause of their problems, they may convince themselves that the only way to feel better is to return to alcohol or drugs once more.
One of the chief causes of relapse among those who have quit alcohol or drugs is an unrealistic expectation of what recovery will be like. Many addicts expect their life to instantly change and believe they are going to feel fantastic as soon as they stop drinking or taking drugs.
In reality, recovery takes a lot longer, and there are no overnight fixes. It would be unrealistic to expect an immediate improvement, particularly since addiction is a progressive illness that occurs over a long time. Those who want to get better and overcome their addiction will have to realise that they need to put in the time and effort before reaping the rewards of a clean and healthy sober life.
Trying Different Substances
Many recovering addicts mistakenly believe that addiction is in the substance rather than in the person. They may have been addicted to cocaine, for example, but never drank alcohol. It is not uncommon for individuals to think that they can drink alcohol while in recovery from a cocaine addiction. Just because they did not have an addiction to alcohol in the past does not mean that they will not develop one in the future.
The truth is that addiction is an illness of the brain; a person who has displayed addictive tendencies in the past could very well do it again with a different mood-altering substance. Many recovering addicts suffer an addiction relapse with a different substance to the one that they were in recovery from.
Importance of Avoiding Addiction Relapse
As you know, one of the hardest parts of recovery is making the decision to get help. Those who relapse may never find the motivation to get sober again, which means possibly wasting their one chance to have a happy, sober life.
For some, a return to addictive behaviour could be life-threatening. Some people have had to have urgent detox and rehab after being warned that to continue taking drugs or alcohol could have fatal repercussions. If they were to relapse, it could mean putting their lives at risk.
Addiction relapse not only has consequences for the recovering addict but also for their family members and friends. If a person relapses, it can ultimately destroy relationships, as many loved ones will find it difficult to trust that the individual with the addiction will ever overcome their illness for good.