Relapse Is Not a Failure: Getting Back on the Recovery Road

Relapse Is Not a Failure: Getting Back on the Recovery Road

No matter how hard you work at your recovery, you may experience a relapse. While addiction treatments are designed to help prevent it, a relapse is not uncommon.

Individuals with various chronic diseases experience relapse, and addiction is no different. In fact, past research has found that the relapse rates for addiction are similar to those of asthma and other chronic illnesses.

It’s important to not see relapse as a personal failure, and to not blame yourself and others for it. While the human brain’s ability to recover from substance abuse is remarkable, relapse is a normal part of the process. If you continue to seek support from your medical and recovery team, and keep up your treatments, you’ll be able to rebound and get back on track.

Recognizing the Signs

When you’re in recovery, you may sometimes think about returning to your old habits. This, too, is normal. The danger comes when you actually give in, perhaps even thinking it’s “just this one time.” This “one” time can quickly turn into another, and then another — and soon enough, you’ve lost all the progress made.

Learn to recognize these kinds of warning signs of a potential impending relapse. Here are a few others.

Romanticizing past use: Reminiscing about the days of getting high or drunk — thinking about drug or alcohol abuse in a positive light — indicates that the recovering individual may be losing sight of the detrimental effects of addiction, and is only remembering those days when substance abuse seemed harmless.

Getting on the defensive side: While those in recovery meet many people who don’t understand what they’re going through, if they become defensive even with friends who are kind and understanding, it’s a red flag. Those who slip back into old patterns typically become defensive of these new changes.

Reconnecting with “old friends”: Severing ties with friends from addiction days is one of the critical steps of recovery. Reaching out to reconnect with some of those bad influences puts the person right back into that environment that enabled substance abuse.

Quitting healthy activities: Whether it’s a new book club with other recovering individuals or group therapy sessions, calling it quits on these activities is a sign that something is wrong.

Breaking down healthy relationships: A support network is essential to a successful recovery. Arguing with or lying to loved ones and friends who are holding the person accountable, or generally spending less time with the positive social network, is another sign that the person is trying to create some distance.

What To Do if You Stray off the Path

If you’re finding yourself heading into relapse, first understand this does happen, and it’s not necessarily because of something you’re doing wrong. Recovery is complex, and treatment sometimes does fail.

The best thing you can do is to understand what to expect, how to spot signs of a relapse, and where to turn if things don’t go as planned. You may need to resume treatment or get your treatment plan modified, or your provider may recommend a different treatment.

Don’t wait to lose control of your life again. Get help right away—the sooner you stop the behaviors that can contribute to a relapse, the less harm you’re likely to cause yourself and the faster you can resume making progress. If you don’t know where to turn, contact Olalla Recovery Centers and we’ll connect you to the right resource.