Picking Yourself Up After Relapse
Our society places moral blame on addicts, and often views sobriety as a matter of personal willpower or desire. Sentiments such as If they really wanted to get clean, they would! abound. But the truth is, addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that alters and damages the brain. There is no silver bullet for “curing” addiction, and much like other sufferers of chronic disease, recovering addicts must be aware of the possibility of relapse. To an extent, those in recovery don’t have total control over relapse. But they do have control over how they respond after a relapse.
After leaving their addiction treatment center, recovering addicts face a barrage of triggers and challenges. As they return to their homes and daily routines, constant reminders of drugs and drug abuse crop up. There’s a neurological component to this—repetition of behaviors and rewards (such as meeting a dealer on a certain street, or snorting drugs in a particular place in the house) creates an association in the brain. So the next time you pass that street corner or go into that room, your brain fires up the old feelings of euphoria associated with drug use. Spotting drug paraphernalia triggers cravings in a similar way. Drug rehab gives clients coping mechanisms and strategies for these situations, but sometimes the cravings can be overpowering.
So the worst happens: after a month, or two, or 26, of hard-fought sobriety, you relapse. The craving overwhelms everything you learned and every reason you have for staying clean. Your first reaction may be shame or self-disgust, but the most important response after a relapse is compassion toward yourself. Everyone messes up; we all make mistakes. Spiralling downward into self-hatred will just make you feel even worse, and may prompt you to continue using drugs. Your best chance at continued sobriety is to forgive yourself, dust yourself off, and get back to meetings, addiction recovery alumni programs, spiritual guidance, and any other community-based support networks you regularly attend. Don’t isolate yourself or try to hide your relapse. Instead, bring it into the open and ask for help.
Along the same lines, don’t get sucked into all or nothing thinking. Also called black or white thinking, these are the kind of thoughts that say, Well, you’ve blown it now. Might as well indulge while you can! All or nothing thinking supposes that any kind of failure spells the absolute end of sobriety. But all or nothing thinking is wrong, counterproductive, and dangerous. If you find yourself slipping down that mental slope, try your hardest to fight back, and remember that almost everyone relapses. Relapse doesn’t mean the end of the line for you by any means. Think of it instead as a momentary blip in your longer journey of recovery.
If you or someone you love is experiencing the pain and heartache of addiction, please contact our understanding and empathetic representatives at Right Path Drug Rehab today. Our luxury drug rehab program will help you recover from this disease and attain sobriety. After detoxing in safe, monitored environment, you’ll learn about addiction and how to fight cravings. Put your health first today and contact us now.