Alcohol Addiction Relapse
When you have worked hard to establish sobriety, relapse can be devastating. Feelings of defeat, worthlessness, and hopelessness can seriously impact your self-esteem and drive you into a state of despair as you struggle to understand what went wrong. But relapse doesn’t mean the end of your recovery journey; in fact, it is a very normal part of the path to healing.
Why Relapse Happens
Despite the fact that relapse is a normal part of the recovery process, many people see relapse as a form of defeat. You may believe that you just didn’t work hard enough or that using is inevitable. You may feel helpless in the face of your addiction and resign yourself to using, unable to see a way out. By understanding why relapse happens, you can overcome these self-destructive thoughts and empower yourself to continue the work of recovery.
Alcohol addiction is not an arbitrary choice or a character flaw, it is a chronic brain disease that creates real structural and functional changes in the brain. These changes predispose you to relapse; in other words, your brain becomes wired to return to addictive behaviors. This, however, should not be a barrier to continued treatment.
Addiction has similar relapse rates to other chronic medical illnesses with physiological and behavioral components, such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes. As with those conditions, relapse does not mean that treatment has failed, nor does it mean that you failed at treatment. Rather, it means that treatment must be adjusted to meet your changing needs and restore your health. In fact, each relapse is one step closer to lasting recovery.
Moving Past Relapse
Relapse is an opportunity to re-evaluate your recovery plan and seek out treatment that will bring you back to the path of healing. Is there an underlying issue that your previous treatment program did not address? Are there new triggers in your life that you do not have adequate skills to cope with? Were you simply not ready to fully engage in the recovery process? Did you discontinue relapse prevention medication too soon?
A comprehensive addiction treatment program will help you explore these issues to get to the root of your alcohol abuse and your relapse in a way that is meaningful and relevant to you. With new insight into your alcohol use, you can develop the skills you need to move forward while also learning how to forgive yourself and create a sustainable plan for ongoing recovery. This includes not only getting the right care while in treatment, but also establishing a meaningful framework for continuing care to minimize the risk of relapse after treatment is completed.
We invite you to contact us at any time to learn more about relapse, alcohol addiction, and treatment options. We are always available to provide guidance and connect you with the resources necessary to establish long-term wellness.