The Truth About Relapse

One of the most important things that you will learn in rehab is that there are times in your life where you may experience a relapse. It happens to the best of us, and it may even happen more than once.

What is very important to understand is that just because you relapse does not mean you failed. It simply means you relapsed and you need to re-enter into recovery.

Understanding what relapses are, what causes them, and how to overcome them when and if they happen is one of the best ways to manage this issue. While you are in a quality rehab center you will learn about the potential for a relapse based specifically on your experiences and addiction type.

What Is Compulsion

Compulsion is the driving force behind an addiction and any subsequent relapses. When you suffer from substance abuse your brain learns to be compulsive over time when you have any type of addiction, and compulsions can quickly take over and dominate your every thought. It is when this domination occurs that the brain is no longer interested in anything else but fulfilling its need for the substance being abused.

The brain stores memories of the pleasure that you felt when you were under the influence of the substance. It relates this to happiness since the brain was flooded with serotonin during the high. Over time, the need for serotonin becomes so strong that control and other motivational thought processes are eliminated and there is nothing left but the craving. Compulsion sets in and the stages of addiction are formed.

Your brain also stores information on what gives you those pleasurable feelings. For example, an alcoholic may really enjoy a certain type of drink and when they see a bottle of alcohol that is used to make that drink it makes them happy. This “trigger” is ingrained in the brain and later, after a person has entered recovery, can still cause the brain to become excited when this object is seen.

The same can occur with drug addictions. Seeing a pill bottle, seeing an object that is used for paraphernalia, even seeing a hypodermic needle can all trigger feelings of wanting that substance, even if you are sober and nothing else in your life would have triggered the desire for the drug. This is how strong of an emotion compulsion is in our lives.

Thankfully, everyone, regardless of addiction type or length of relapse, can overcome these compulsions and take control of their lives.

When A Relapse Happens

Relapses can happen. Sometimes a person who has been living in their hard-earned sobriety for years finds themselves in a relapse that may have come from nowhere. It is important to remember that this is not the end of your recovery, it is merely a “bump in the road.”

When you went into an rehabilitation center to treat your addiction, you learned many things about yourself and about life itself. Some of the things you learned included:

  • Life doesn’t always work out like you want, but this is not the end of the world
  • Setbacks happen, what is more important is how you overcome them
  • Your life does not have to be easy and care free to be good

Your substance abuse counselor may not have used these exact words or terms, but the meanings behind them were implied. Your counselor stressed these issues to you so that if a relapse happens you will know that it is not the end of your recovery. You can go back to being sober. Setbacks (relapses) happen, it’s what you do next that matters.

Extent Of Your Relapse

Rehabilitation centers that have a high-quality program understand that there is a potential for relapse. Because of this, drug rehab centers address what a person needs to do to stay in recovery when they leave the program, and what to do if they have a relapse.

The extent of your relapse will determine the right course of action for you to re-enter sobriety. It may be something as basic as speaking to your family about your relapse and asking for support, or you may need to go back, even as an outpatient, to drug rehab.

The most wonderful news about all of this is that it does not matter if you relapse, how bad you relapse, or if you have relapsed several times. What does matter is that you are willing to do what it takes to get back on track and enter recovery again.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

Maybe it was a relative or a friend that told you that old phrase. Maybe you remember the little girl on “Miracle on 34th Street” saying that phrase over and over when she wished for a house. Maybe you have even said the phrase yourself. Wherever you have heard or used this old cliche, the fact remains that it is a very relevant saying in the world of addictions and recovery.

Recovery is an everyday thing. When you leave the addiction recovery center, you will have to work at staying in recovery. You will have to get up each day and make the choice to stay sober. You will have to make the decisions necessary to avoid situations that may trigger a compulsion or avoid people or situations that can lead to a relapse.

When you are in the rehabilitation program you will learn how to manage your addiction once you leave the center. You will learn what started your addiction, what triggers your addiction, and what you can do to avoid these issues and remain substance free. You will learn one of the most important things about substance addiction – It is more than just saying no to substance use, it is about saying yes to the things in life that matter.

In the end, the most important thing to know about a relapse is the fact that they can happen to anyone. You are not weak or a bad person, you are simply a human being. You can recover from a relapse just as you recovered from the addiction. All that matters is that you try, try again.

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