There is a high percentage of people in recovery who relapse. Close to 80% of recovering addicts experience relapse. However, the causes of relapse are most often identifiable and preventable, especially if you know what to look for. This article will discuss the importance of acknowledging that relapse is a real possibility, while also remembering that there are ways to prevent it.
First of all, you should recognize that relapse may be simply part of the recovery experience. As already mentioned, most recovering addicts will relapse at least once, and some will relapse more than once. But that doesn’t mean to give up when it happens. It simply means that relapse is a part of a process. Recovery is like taking two steps forward and one step back. You may go backward from time to time, but overall, you’re making progress. If you can remember that when you relapse, you might have more confidence in getting back on the road to recovery if/when you fall. So, the first step when it comes relapse is to recognize that it may actually happen. However, it’s not an event that should completely knock you off your feet. Instead, just shake the dust off, recommit to your sobriety goal, and start again.
Recognizing Risk Factors for Relapse
At the same time, if you’re doing well in your recovery, there are certain factors that tend to get in the way of a person’s sobriety and that tend to cause relapse. The next step is to identify whether you have these factors in your life and work to avoid them or heal them. For instance, the following are typical factors that tend to impair a person’s ability to stay sober:
- weak networks of support
- existing mental health disorders
- drug use/addiction began early in life
- addiction to multiple forms of substances
- unresolved trauma
- poor coping skills
Those who chronically relapse might have one or more of the above factors. For instance, not have the coping skills to manage the emotions that were leading to drug use in the first place might cause a person to return to drug use if emotions continue to feel overwhelming. Learning new coping mechanisms, healing unresolved issues that lead to those challenging emotions, and creating strong support networks can help keep relapse at bay.
If relapse continues to occur, then likely there are still underlying issues that have yet to be resolved. Healing all the circumstances that led to drinking or using drugs in the first place should reduce or eliminate the likelihood of relapse during recovery. Additionally, having a strong network of support can help strengthen one’s recovery. The support of others can promote a feeling of connection, hope, and confidence in staying sober. If you don’t already have a community of friends who are sober, find a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12-step meeting. You might also seek the support of a therapist, make amends with sober family members and friends where it’s possible, and give back to your community. Staying connected to others can help prevent loneliness as well as relapse.
These are suggestions for preventing relapse, especially if you have any of the triggers for relapse mentioned above. If you feel your sobriety is in danger, seek the support you need.