According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are more than twenty-three and a half million Americans over the age of eleven who are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and need rehabilitation treatment. Regrettably, many individuals who do receive treatment for addiction and advance on to recovery, end up relapsing which is not uncommon. In any case, this brings us to the question, “While in recovery, is a relapse inevitable or preventable?” Many individuals feel that it is inevitable that they will relapse after drug or alcohol addiction treatment. It is easy for individuals to relapse, but it is not inevitable. You can prevent a relapse from occurring.
Why do People Turn to Drugs or Alcohol?
Individuals have their own very specific reasons for turning to drug or alcohol use, or for continuing their substance abuse indefinitely. What they do have in common, though, is extensive physical, mental, and spiritual causes and effects of drug use. These causes and effects of drug use are the reason individuals participate in rehabilitation treatment.
Ideally, an individual who determines that drug use is harmful to them in some way would be able to choose not to use these substances anymore, and that would just be the end of it. Unfortunately, however, it is not this simple. The person will have to address whatever problems or difficulties they feel that drug use can help them solve or avoid. In addition to that, the individual will have to address and resolve whatever physical, mental, and spiritual damages the drug use is causing.
Of course, the goal of any rehab treatment program is to help an individual thoroughly address all of the aspects of addiction so that they are able to move forward into a healthier, happier future. However, the success of a rehab treatment program is largely dependent upon the individual’s own determination and persistence on the road to recovery. But some individuals wonder if true and lasting recovery is actually possible, or is a future relapse inevitable or preventable?
Is a Relapse Inevitable or Preventable?
A relapse occurs when an individual who has quit drug use for some period of time returns to using drugs at a future point. An individual can relapse after being sober for a week, a few months, or even many years. Some individuals work incredibly hard to achieve and maintain their sobriety, only to fall back into drug use at some point in the future. A relapse can lead them to believe that drug addiction is a disease from which they can never hope to fully recover. Fortunately, this is no truer than the statement that a building that catches on fire once will inevitably catch on fire again in the future.
It may be true that initial drug use begins as a choice. It may also be true that drug dependence and addiction is a compulsion over which the individual feels they have no control. However, the bottom line is that if an individual thoroughly addresses every single cause and effect of their drug use and gains the life skills they need in order to move smoothly into a sober future, a relapse is entirely preventable.
In the case of the building fire, most wise individuals would seek to determine the cause of the fire, repair all the damages, and learn the skills necessary to prevent it ever occurring again. This is precisely what an individual needs to do in order to prevent a relapse from occurring. They also can watch for signs of a potential relapse, and then take action to stop it in its tracks. For example, they may be showing signs such as:
- participating in compulsive behavior
- having destructive thoughts
- experiencing a neglect of proven coping skills
- returning to unhealthy environments and behaviors
- neglecting established healthy habits
- having isolated activities
- experiencing sudden and dramatic mood swings
If they are showing any of these signs, they should immediately take action to get back on track. They can reach out to an addiction counselor or their rehab treatment facility to get guidance and help as needed to sort out what may be causing these tendencies and gain the skills necessary to address and resolve them.
Many successful rehab treatment programs either include an aftercare program or encourage their clients to enroll in one. These programs are incredibly valuable as they can help to support the individual through his transition back into normal life environments and routines so that difficulties that arise can be addressed immediately, before they cause any real trouble. They often promote healthy lifestyles, including good diet and exercise regimens, as these can help the individual to feel well physically and maintain mood stability and optimized thinking. They also often promote sober social and recreational activities, where the individual can connect with other healthy people and learn to enjoy what life has to offer.
If an individual feels they do absolutely everything right and still relapse, it doesn’t mean that they are “one of the few” who cannot achieve full and lasting recovery. It simply means they need more help. Returning to rehab treatment is the best choice for such an individual, as they can get the full support and treatment they need to take back their life.