As unfortunate as it may be, recovering addicts will probably experience at least one relapse in their lives. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has deemed relapse as likely, estimating that between 40 to 60% of drug addicts eventually relapse. Depending on the definition of relapse, several treatment centers estimate relapse rates as high as 90%.
Addiction is a chronic disease, so several genetic, biological and social stressors can trigger relapse. And, while a relapse is a serious problem, it does not mean that recovery is over, or that the addict is doomed. If a relapse is caught early enough, individuals can view it as a set-back with every hope that they can get well.
You can cope with a relapse in any of the 5 following ways:
- Take action right away. If you have relapsed or feel one coming on, then do not prolong the issue, hide it from others or ignore it. Relapse is common, and you can deal with it. Acknowledging it and taking accountability for your behavior will allow you to move forward, faster than possible alone and with minimal damage. Get help or take action immediately instead of letting guilt, fear or denial pull you further away from recovery.
- Reconnect with treatment professionals. Whether it be a counselor, therapist, support group, sponsor or other recovery professional, you need help getting back on-track in recovery. Relapse does not mean treatment has failed; it provides the knowledge and skills needed for recovery, but maintaining lifelong recovery takes work. Rehab will not teach you everything you need to know to prevent relapse for the rest of your life, so you must practice the lessons that helped you find sobriety in the first place. In addition, recovery professionals can determine the level of continued treatment you need. Some people may need minimal treatment, while others need intense care to overcome relapse.
- Get rid of everything that does not support your recovery. Life throws many problems your way. After rehab, individuals are empowered and motivated, so they can easily change to live in recovery. However, problems eventually creep back into a recovering user’s life, so users must once again eliminate the people and things that threaten recovery, whether it is stress, a negative relationship, having too much free-time and etc.
- Relapse is disheartening, but it cannot prevent you from keeping a positive attitude and staying optimistic about recovery. Try to view relapse as a learning experience rather than as a sign of failure. Consider that the event can actually strengthen your recovery by indicating that you have lost focus or that you must implement better coping skills to stay sober. Identify what led or contributed to the relapse, and investigate those issues to avoid them or to be better prepared against them in the future. Check to see if you suffer from the most common risks for relapse: stress, anger, symptomatic mental illness, celebrations and overconfidence.
- While you get rid of all the people and things that harm your recovery, make sure to involve the people and things that support it. Let your network of supporters in on what you are going through, and get back to the activities and interests that distracted you from using drugs.
People that need help during or after a relapse can call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our admissions coordinators can answer your questions, address your concerns and connect you with the professionals that can get you back on-track with recovery. Seek help now to get and stay clean from methadone.