Fear of relapse is a very real issue for people in nearly all stages of addiction recovery. Surprisingly, failure is so common that it’s actually considered an expected part of the recovery process. You’re virtually guaranteed to encounter moments of overwhelming temptation and cravings, just as you’re sure to experience extraordinary stress, painful encounters, and other negative circumstances, emotions, and triggers. Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is a lifelong process. This complex disease has a long-term effect on how the brain and body function. Fortunately, there’s always a variety of support services for bringing your recovery back on track, and for limiting the impact that relapse events have on your life. It’s important to note that relapsing doesn’t always mean what people think it means.
Relapsing is understood as occurring in several distinct phases. Moreover, it starts long before a use event actually happens. People are considered as being in the early phases of relapse when they stop attending support groups, start isolating themselves, and begin neglecting their general self-care. Knowing what the different phases of relapse are makes it easier for people to seek help when they need it. Support groups, accountability partners, sober sponsors, and even formal relapse prevention programs are all things that people can use to prevent or end relapse events.
Why Relapse Occurs
Relapse can occur for many different reasons. For some people, entering the early stages of relapse is often a sign that insufficient addiction treatment has been received. Some people start their recoveries by attending only mildly restrictive outpatient programs that last just one month. Addiction recovery tends to have the highest success rates when treatment times are longer. As such, for people recovering from highly addictive substances, and for those who’ve spent long periods of time using large amounts of drugs or alcohol, the best treatment types are inpatient programs that last three to six months or even longer. Long-term inpatient treatment gives people a significant break from real-world stressors and triggers for learning new coping strategies, better understanding their addictions, and building their strength and resolve. At times, relapse can also be the result of too much confidence.
After succeeding in addiction treatment, many people convince themselves that they can return to old friendships, old environments, and their former life habits without using. Sadly, certain social connections and environments may simply be too toxic to ever return to without facing a serious risk of relapse. Over-confidence in addiction recovery can also cause people to become lax in using ongoing addiction support services. When maintaining recovery stops being a priority, temptation often sets in.
Sometimes relapse occurs because the right, needs-specific treatment services have not been received. For example, when people use drugs or alcohol as a means for self-medicating undiagnosed mental health disorders, dual diagnosis treatment is essential. Dual diagnosis offers accurate diagnosis for issues like:
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- General anxiety disorder
and many others. It also provides healthy, sustainable ways for managing these illnesses so that patients no longer need to rely on illicit substances or alcohol to mute their symptoms.
Fear of Getting Well
Like many people, your fear of failing in addiction recovery may actually be masking a very real fear of getting well. Sadly, some recovering addicts don’t feel as though they’re actually worthy of leading healthy, happy, stable, and ultimately successful lives. For these individuals, substance use is both a coping mechanism and a way of self-sabotaging. For this reason, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used in addiction treatment for fostering positive thinking and increased feelings of self-worth. Fear of change can also lie just beneath fears of relapsing. At the start of addiction treatment, the prospect of forever living your life absent of drugs and alcohol may seem boring.
In reality, however, people who are successful in recovery find that life becomes infinitely more exiting and enjoyable once they are substance-free and healthy. One of the most important things to remember when facing a fear of failure or a fear of getting well is that you’ll never know how bright things are on the other side until you actually give recovery a try. Given its negative and ongoing impact on lives and life qualities, continued substance use is guaranteed to be miserable. When people finally grow tired of losing money, losing family, losing professional opportunities, and losing friends, most are willing to accept treatment. The risk of failing and the fear of getting well are definitely worth facing head-on.
Returning to Rehab
There’s no shame in returning to rehab if you need additional addiction treatment. In fact, the sooner that you seek help after any relapse event; the easier it will invariably be to get things back on track. If another stay in inpatient rehab doesn’t feel right for you, you can also try outpatient rehab services, a sober living facility, joining a support group, or taking part in a short or long-term relapse prevention program. If you’re tired of battling addiction on your own and want to find the best services for getting sober and staying that way, we’re here to help you find them. Get in touch with our counselors now by calling 954-523-1167.