What Does Relapse Mean to an Addict?

One of the largest obstacles facing those with histories of substance abuse is the idea that a relapse indicates their failure to get clean.
Many families of addicted teens, men or women fear that their family member walks on a path of egg-shells.

With the fear that they will resort to return to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, they wonder if or when a relapse may occur.  And should their recovering addict have suffered a relapse into the use of drugs or alcohol; what does this mean to their recovery success?

In fact, one of the largest obstacles facing those with histories of substance abuse is the idea that a relapse indicates their failure to get clean.  Should a recovering addict suffer a relapse, their family or friends often reflect that all former efforts for sobriety were of little value and they do not deserve a second chance.  A decidedly critical and callous attitude; it is actually incorrect.  Rather than a collapse of the recovering addict’s war with addiction; relapse simply becomes another challenge that they must overcome.  Recognizing that relapse is, indeed, a serious event in the lives of those seeking a life of health and sobriety; their life-long journey toward health extends much further than that.

A family that has been impacted in some way by the side-effects of substance abuse has probably gone through the relapse of a relative or loved one.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse has explained that this is not an indication that the person with the substance abuse history has squandered their last hope for sobriety.  In reality, the relapse rate for people who have completed a drug treatment program is roughly in line with patients who had sought medical care for Type 1 diabetes, hypertension or asthma.  However, when a patient needs follow-up care for one of these physical disorders, or additional treatment for high blood pressure, they usually receive overwhelming support.

Contrary to other medical issues, when a person with a history of substance abuse relapses back into old habits; this act is not recognized as a medical event, but seen as a bad choice.  Recognizing the true nature of the relapse can make it easier for people to move through the event and return to treatment.  In fact, many factors can come into play which may lead people into relapse.  The differences between outpatient and inpatient treatment settings may not meet the needs of the lifestyle of the person in recovery, making a relapse the inevitable result.  Certain treatment centers may not be equipped with the right facilities or staff of specialists to deal with issues related to a rare drug. 

Involvement in a residential treatment program that provides intensive outpatient support programs can help prevent relapse of the recovering addict.  With a program that involves ongoing individual and group therapy forums, family therapy sessions, continued education for modification of behavior and other 12-step community support opportunities, the client is provided a platform for continued recovery success. 

Distributed by Client Initiatives

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