In recovery, we talk extensively about how guilt impacts people. One…
Relapse is expected in recovery.
It is an awful truth and one many people do not want to acknowledge. However, the very nature of addiction means that quitting is difficult, and relapse is always a possibility. That does not mean that addicts are fragile and always at risk of relapse. However, it does mean that addicts need to plan their lives as if they are always at risk of relapse.
Addiction Is a Lifelong Disease
For a long time, we treated addiction like a personal weakness. However, addiction is a real disease with a biological basis. Managing it means treating it like any other lifelong disease. Much like Type 2 diabetes, which many people can control through lifestyle changes, addiction is manageable. However, it never goes away. Managing recovery is a lifelong issue.
Relapse Is Not Failure
People often feel like failures if they relapse. However, this attitude can actually make relapses worse. Understanding that relapse is an anticipated part of the recovery process for substance addiction can help people be more forgiving of themselves if they do lapse.
Relapse Red Flags
In fact, there are warning signs before most people relapse. Understanding those warning signs can help you identify when you are at risk of using them. That gives you the opportunity to change behaviors before you relapse or to stop a relapse from getting worse.
It can be easy to romanticize when you are using it. You may miss the feeling of friends, party days, or even feeling carefree. If you notice yourself having those feelings, you need to be honest with yourself and address the bad times, as well. What were the negative things that occurred when you were using? How did it impact you, your family, and your loved ones?
Some people and places are bad influences. Are you avoiding hanging out with people who want you to be sober? Are you hanging out with friends who are addicted or who helped enable your addiction? If so, you are increasing your risk of relapsing.
One of the interesting ideas some people discuss is the idea of California sober. The definition varies, but it basically means that you are free from some substances, but not all substances. It is nothing new in recovery. For example, many recovering drug or alcohol addicts are smokers or drink lots of caffeine. Smoking is terrible for your long-term health, but it does not have the same immediate physical or mental health impacts or damage relationships the same way that other substances can.
Many people have the same approach to some drugs. They may be sober, but still use marijuana. They may be off drugs but drink casually. Can that work? Honestly, it depends on the individual.