What Happens If I Relapse?

When an addict is actively participating in their addictions, they are either living or on their way to living a life where the main goal each day is to obtain and use drugs or alcohol. From sun up to sun down, that is their only real concern and every step they take will always relate to satisfying their desires. Often lying to or manipulating people as well as situations to make it happen is a common occurrence, even with those they love the most.

When an addict or alcohol decides to attend rehab, they have essentially decided to arrest their harmful habits and unhealthy lifestyles in favor of having a better life. After a certain prescribed timeframe, usually thirty, sixty, or ninety days, in a drug rehabilitation program, they have successfully detoxed from all substances and have gained a new outlook on their lives. Having earned sobriety, they expect to move forward in their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction with ease, thinking the hard work is now behind them. The truth is that the possibility of slipping back into old thoughts and actions is incredibly high as soon as you leave the facility and as easy as just one drink or a drug away.

So, with all this said, what does happen if a relapse occurs?

The first thing that happens when a relapse occurs is that the sobriety clock stops and will only reset when the addict decides to become sober again. Why is losing the clean time one had accrued a big deal? In short, deciding to go sober is a choice that came as a result of a lot of pain and anguish and earning sobriety also does not come easy. To go through the process of detoxing as well as the many steps of recovery is hard earned. When someone relapses, they lose all that they earned and have to start over. However, what is important to note here is that they do not lose the education they received from attending a treatment program in the first place. Using drugs and alcohol possibly used to be fun, but now that they have completed a rehab program, attended meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, they have enough knowledge to know that the “fun” only lasts so long and comes with a heavy emotional and financial price tag…not only to themselves but also to the ones they love.

When one relapses, people in their lives will most likely lose confidence and trust in them and often the fear, anger and sadness they experienced towards the addict will redevelop but now even more comprehensively. In cases of extreme and reckless drug abuse, the addict will experience even more loss than originally anticipated because by coming in and out of rehab programs, they lose our livelihoods and independence by becoming institutionalized repeatedly. They also lose their freedom by establishing a criminal record through a series of arrests and jail and prison, and in a worst-case scenario, they lose their lives through their excessive drug abuse, leaving behind irreparable emotional damage to those they love.

Relapse is a great possibility for anyone in recovery who does not put his or her sobriety first. Typical of those who stop attending AA meetings, working the steps, or calling the sponsor, relapse is not only likely, it is inevitable. Alcoholics and addicts never need a specific reason to use, they use simply because they can. To the addicted mind, anything and everything can be identified as a reason to use again. Physical and emotional triggers play a tremendous role in relapse. Dangerous settings, such as bars or parties, where alcohol and drugs are being used can cause a person to relapse. Stressful situations such as family feuds or emotionally-charged arguments with a significant other can also be a recipe for relapse. Even high-stress jobs and tasks can be triggers to relapse when feelings of happiness and accomplishment can give the recovering person a reason to pick up a drink or a drug in celebration.

To the recovering alcoholic or addict, relapse triggers are all people, places and things, and they must be vigilant in recognizing and avoiding these triggers or at least have a strong support system behind them to help sway them in making a good choice to honor their sobriety.

If one has experienced a relapse, or are concerned that a relapse may occur, enrollment in an intensive outpatient program should be considered. Here one can address issues surrounding their addiction and recovery in order to prevent a possible relapse. In addition to an aftercare program, entering a sober living house where a healthy, sober lifestyle is encouraged and fostered can contribute to a stronger foundation in their sobriety and make them accountable to others through regular and random urinalyses, chores, and group meditations.

If you or a loved one has been dealing with an addiction of any nature or if you need help getting through to an addict or alcoholic, contact us today. We can provide you with quality treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t wait. Call now.