The road to recovery is not an easy one to travel. Addiction is a very difficult mental health disorder to overcome. Substance abuse treatment isn’t a one-way street though; both the medical professionals and those participating in treatment need to do their best for the individual to reach recovery. At Magnolia City, we believe that it is imperative to prevent relapse whatever the process looks like. Sobriety is the most important thing for those who are seeking treatment, and we want to be a vehicle for that journey.
We’re able to do this with individualized treatment plans that meet the needs of the individual first. When people become a number in a machine of treatment, relapse becomes much more likely. At Magnolia City, we evaluate each person and their unique needs to provide the best treatment option for them. Some may need inpatient care while others may require alcohol detox. Maximizing their recovery success and treating their unique needs are imperative to us.
Relapse is when a person with a previous condition falls back into past behaviors and habits. In substance abuse treatment specifically, relapse is when a person tries to stop drinking and slips back into addiction. The important thing to remember is that this isn’t something that dictates a person’s success; no matter how far they have slipped, getting back on your feet is possible and worth chasing after. This is why a relapse prevention plan is needed.
There are some reasons why someone may experience a relapse, which may include the following:
Relapse can be proactively avoided, but if you’re not prepared, it can sneak up and grab a tight hold on you. Even for the strongest people, relapse can come in and make a mess of life. As previously mentioned, however, there are signs that can help a person anticipate relapse (should they be looking for them).
Relapse is one of the worst things to face for someone who is recovering from a substance use disorder. However, it is more likely to happen when someone fails to make it a priority. When a person isn’t committed to doing the best they can in rehab, relapse comes to kick down doors. Recognizing this sign is imperative to preventing relapse.
Those who aren’t prioritizing recovery might treat it as optional or seem as though they’re not motivated to recover completely. It could also be indicative of other signs of impending relapse like a person not seeking help on their own accord.
Self-awareness is when a person is cognizant of their strengths, weaknesses, needs, and desires. Reflecting on oneself is a benefit to self-growth, and could mean the difference between relapsing and recovering. Some people aren’t self-aware, even through recovery. They’re not doing it for them; they’re doing it for someone else. It is imperative to one’s recovery success that they are doing it for themselves rather than someone else. This will help strengthen their resolve to recover wholly.
It may be effective to stage an intervention to help someone become more aware of their substance use disorder. This could help someone recognize the issues that everybody else can see clearly. When it comes to people, they tend to have a blind spot for their own errors. It’s not wrong to want to believe the best in yourself, but it doesn’t help to not be aware of the truth of one’s current state of being.
It’s not easy to make the step between the treatment facility and the world outside of professional care for addiction. This is why it’s so important to have a plan for life post-treatment. Being unprepared for the harsh reality of environments outside of a substance abuse treatment center is like playing with fire. When someone either says explicitly or seems like they’re not prepared for post-rehab life, it may be indicative of impending relapse.
Failure is a deafening blow. What’s even worse is the paralyzing fear of failure; not only is a fear of failure paralyzing, but it also has the potential to influence decisions negatively. Fear of failure (and sometimes fear of success) has the potential to lead a person to not even try. Not only that, but a person could be so certain of their impending doom that they sabotage themselves to get it over with.
However, when a person is able to accept failure as an inevitable side-effect of the human condition, they can feel peace. Failure is a natural part of life; ironically, it’s the greatest teacher should we choose to evaluate our experience, apply our lesson, and live on. Relapse is incredibly common in substance abuse treatment. It’s imperative to remember that no man is an island, and anyone who relapses isn’t the only one who’s ever done so.
Relapse is one of the most frustrating circumstances that someone who deals with substance use disorder can endure. To work so hard (or at the very least an adequate effort) and then have it fall apart is disheartening. Sometimes, however, the most difficult part is to decide to keep moving forward.
Chronic relapse is difficult to overcome and not become frustrated with. This is especially true when so much time in treatment has been spent trying to get better. Feeling as though you’ve wasted your time is never a good feeling – even more so when you’ve put the work in. However, despite the hardship, it is imperative to persevere. Giving up could make the situation even worse. The stability and quality of life that comes from sobriety are second-to-none.
Some ways to deal with the aftermath of relapse may include the following:
Think outside the box. We hear this phrase all the time when it comes to developing creative solutions to frustrating problems. How do we bring this down to earth? Thinking of a million solutions will do nothing but exhaust you. Thinking unconventionally, however, may present a creative solution naturally. This could start with asking yourself what the best solution for your unique needs may be. Along with a few relapse prevention skills to make the process easier.
Some people do better with a less practical approach to addiction treatment. For example, some individuals may do well with traditional inpatient care while someone else may need to tap into a more spiritual side of it all. Holistic treatment methods focus on treating the entirety of an individual (mind, body, and soul). Therefore it implements exercises like hiking, yoga, meditation, nutritional therapy, and others.
It’s difficult for many individuals to look at themselves and not hold themselves to a harsh standard. However, it’s imperative to remember that relapse is a difficult reality to face. It’s more common than some may believe; it’s equally as important to remember that you’re not invincible. There are some things beyond our control; some things we aren’t ready to face. The hard realities in life that we face, whether they be a relapse or something else, are stepping stones we take towards something greater. They serve to strengthen us.
It is imperative for those who experience a relapse, or chronic relapse, to seek out treatment and look into a relapse prevention plan. No matter how redundant it may seem, it’s imperative for long-term sobriety to strengthen oneself following a relapse. Many individuals don’t attend treatment long enough or participate in the wrong treatment method for them. This is oftentimes the case for why they experience a debilitating relapse. Despite this, it is of utmost importance to seek out treatment post-relapse while learning relapse prevention skills.
For those experiencing relapse, chronic or not, the case is sometimes that they’ve had negative influences surrounding them. Negative influences aren’t just people who explicitly encourage others to do drugs, but could also be those who don’t continually encourage and support you. Negative influences could be people who don’t take your recovery seriously, thus making you feel like you shouldn’t make sobriety a priority.
Taking time away from this toxicity will not just improve your chances of sobriety, but it will also test the weight of that friendship. If a person is truly a good friend, they will follow up and ask why you’ve been distant. If you can be honest with them and they actually show concern, remorse, and repentance, they could have the potential to be a good influence.
Not only does long-term relapse prevention have to do with those you surround yourself with, but also with participating in recovery activities. These may be activities that help a person re-enforce a healthy lifestyle and sober discipline. It could also be a new hobby that allows a person to spend their time differently in ways that intrigue them. All in all, there are many ways to prevent relapse long-term, but all the pieces need to work together for a person to be successful. It helps to have activity, community, and stability.
Dr. Olaniyi O. Osuntokun is a Neurology & Psychiatry Specialist based in Conroe, Texas, and Lafayette, Indiana. He has extensive experience in treating Individuals with substance use disorders and addiction. He earned his medical degree from University of Ibadan College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.