Relapse Doesn’t Mean Failure
Throughout college, Bill and his friends partied together, abused illicit substances together, and even suffered from some of the same negative outcomes caused by their use and abuse together. But there was one thing that separated him from the group: While his friends grew up and learned from their mistakes, Bill fell into addiction.
As he describes in the book Now What? An Insider’s Guide to Addiction and Recovery, Bill struggled with his addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine for over a decade, during which he lost his marriage and suffered countless other harmful consequences before realizing he’d had enough and needed help.
Similar to many others who are fighting addiction, Bill’s road to recovery wasn’t easy. He battled through three episodes of relapse before taking his final journey into treatment. But despite his struggles, he never gave up and now enjoys a life free from addiction.
Understanding and Preventing Relapse
Unfortunately the term “relapse” often carries a strong negative connotation for many people. A common belief is that if an addicted person relapses, it’s a result of their lack of will or a moral failing. In other words, it’s their fault that they’re abusing drugs or alcohol again.
But that’s not the case. Addiction is similar to other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, in that relapse is often a regular occurrence and doesn’t constitute failure. Steps that can help prevent relapse from occurring include:
- Maintaining a strong support system and sponsor
- Avoiding possible relapse triggers
- Developing new hobbies, activities, and ways to keep busy
- Creating and sticking to a relapse prevention program
To a person battling drug or alcohol addiction, relapse can often be very frustrating and potentially devastating. It’s important to remember that recovery is a daily process, one that takes hard work and dedication to maintain.
Not everyone’s road to recovery will be interrupted by relapse. But if relapse does happen, it doesn’t mean failure or that there’s no hope for long-term recovery. Like Bill, many addicted people are able to go on to live healthy lives without drugs or alcohol despite experiencing one or more episodes of relapse. With the right treatment and support system, recovery is possible.
By Jenna Mitchell
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