You may have heard that relapse is part of recovery. That’s more than just a well-worn saying, however. The truth is that many people who struggle with addiction repeatedly get sober, stay sober for a certain length of time, and then relapse. That doesn’t mean rehab is pointless. If you can accept relapse as part of the cycle of recovery, you’ll have a better chance of long-term recovery. Very few people enter rehab once, get clean, and stay sober for the rest of their lives. It would be nice if that could happen, but it’s rare. It’s important to know that if you relapse after getting treatment, you are not alone. Relapse doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It doesn’t mean there was no point in going to rehab. It is just another obstacle you have to face when you’re getting free from drug abuse.
What Happens After You Relapse?
Many things can cause a substance abuser to fall back into addiction. Substance abuse experts call these factors “triggers,” and part of successful recovery is discovering what might trigger your relapse and how to fight it. Most people who successfully stay sober treat each relapse as a learning experience. They know what to focus on in the next round of treatment. For many former users, ongoing support is key to staying sober. They benefit from attending support group meetings or living in sober homes where substance abuse is not allowed. A sober home with a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol is a safe, supportive environment that can prevent relapses.
Addiction Is a Chronic Illness
If you think of substance abuse as a long-term, chronic illness, it’s easier to understand relapse. People with long-term illnesses go through similar cycles. Some days they have severe symptoms, and other days they have none. Substance abuse is the same way. Treatment providers and addiction researchers now recognize that relapse and recovery are part of an ongoing cycle. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says: “The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse is not only possible but also likely, with symptom recurrence rates similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.”
Why Getting Sober Matters
When substance abusers relapse, it may be natural to think that there’s no point in going to rehab or getting sober. However, there are good reasons to get as much sober time as you can. Here are just a few improvements you’ll see after a few weeks or months of sobriety.
- Physical health: Drugs can destroy your body. Spending time sober gives your body some much-needed time to rest and recover.
- Family relationships: For the first time in a long time, you can have real, honest conversations with your family. • Work: If you have a job, your performance is always better when you’re not under the influence.
- Legal issues: Studies have found that repeated periods of sobriety reduce your chances of getting into serious legal trouble.
- Emotions: Getting sober puts you in touch with your real emotions instead of the constant highs and crashes of addiction.
- Safety: Being a substance abuser means exposing yourself to dangerous living conditions. If you’re sober, you are more likely to find a safe living environment. According to NIDA, “Research indicates that active participation in treatment is an essential component for good outcomes and can benefit even the most severely addicted individuals.” That’s good news for anyone who’s thinking about going into rehab or getting help for their loved one. Treatment will help, and relapse is just a temporary condition.
Can a Sober House Help You Avoid Relapse?
Studies have found that moving to a sober house after rehab is one of the best ways to stay sober for an extended period. Living in a sober house will ease the transition to a regular life free from drugs or alcohol. A professionally run sober house usually includes the following rules:
- Zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol
- Periodic drug and alcohol tests
- Required attendance at support groups
- Therapy sessions
- Help finding and keeping a job
- Weekly chores
Get Help Today
Are you ready for your recovery? Our counselors are available 24-7 to help you or a loved one find the treatment center you need. Call 954-523-1167 any time to get started.