Drug and alcohol rehab statistics show that the percentage of people who will relapse after a period recovery ranges from 50% to 90%. This is a frightening statistic and it is often used as justification for those who wish to carry on with their addiction. What these figures hide is that there are things that the individual can do to greatly increase their chances of sustained sobriety. Those people who are serious about aftercare greatly increase their chances of success. It is most often those who are not adequately supported in recovery that end up returning to their addiction.
There are many reasons for why people may decide to return to addiction after a period of sobriety including:
* They did not adequately prepare for the transition from rehab to home. Moving from a protected environment to a world where the individual is faced by familiar temptation is a challenge, and the individual needs to be ready for this.
* They did not have appropriate aftercare. If the only step that the individual takes is to give up alcohol and drugs they are unlikely to find success in recovery.
* There are many individuals who are ambivalent about their recovery – they have not completely given up on the idea that they will one day be able to use alcohol or drugs safely. So long as the individual is not fully committed to their recovery they are unlikely to find success.
* There are many addicts who agree to enter recovery as an effort at appeasement. They have no real intention of staying sober long term, but they want to get family and friends off their case.
* Some individuals are dealing with a dual diagnosis, and this means that they have an additional mental health problem alongside their addiction. Unless both of these issues are dealt with it may be impossible for the individual to settle into recovery.
* Those people who enter recovery with unrealistic expectations can be setting themselves up for a relapse. Things do not become perfect overnight, and if the individual expects results without putting in the time and effort they are almost sure to be disappointed.
* Some individuals may be put on a path in sobriety that is inappropriate for their needs. The once size fits all approach to addiction recovery is not longer widely accepted.
* There are many people who believe that their only problem is alcohol or drugs, and they forget that there were reasons why they feel into addiction in the first place. If these reasons are not dealt with in recovery they can continue to cause problems and lead back to addiction.
* Some individuals turn to addiction substitutes such as workaholism or exercise addiction.
* Some people get sober but continue to spend their time with substance abusers. This means that they are constantly being tempted to return to their old life, and the chances are that one day they will be unable to resist.
* There are many examples of people becoming sober and then falling in with the wrong crowd. Not everyone in recovery is getting better, and dry drunks can pull other people down with them.
* Many people suffer from loneliness in recovery. This is usually because they have not yet had the time to make new friends in recovery to replace the drinking and drugging buddies they left behind.
* Some people take on additional burdens in early sobriety. This means that they become overwhelmed by everything and feel unable to cope.
* There are many individuals who give up one addictive substance but continue to use other mind altering substances. This is a dangerous game that it almost certain to end badly.
The statistics show that most people do not mange to quit their addiction on their first attempt. They may try and fail a number of times before they manage to secure lasting sobriety. This leads to the conclusion that relapse is a normal part of recovery. While there is certainly some truth in this claim it is often understood to mean that relapse is a needed element of recovery. This is certainly not the case, and there are plenty of people who do manage to escape their addiction with their first serious effort. There is absolutely no advantage in continuously relapsing and each time the individual returns to alcohol and drugs they are taking a risk.
When people relapse it is hugely dangerous because:
* If people return to alcohol or drug abuse there is no guarantee that they will ever be able to stop again. This means that their relapse may turn out to be a death sentence.
* Many people find that when the relapse after a period of sobriety their situation deteriorates. This may be because it is tougher to deal with the misery of addiction when people have tasted a bit of freedom.
* Over time the life of the addict tends to deteriorate. This means that when people relapse they may be going back to a life that is even worse than before.
* Relapse lowers self efficacy, and this may make it harder to achieve sobriety in the future. This is because the individual loses belief in their ability to stay sober and this sucks away their motivation.
* If the individual did not have a good experience during their attempt at sobriety it may reinforce the idea that recovery is a waste of time. They may fail to realize that the problem wasn’t with recovery but with their approach to it.
* Relapse is a disappointment for family and friends. They will have already suffered enough but are now faced with more of the same.
* Some individuals become extremely depressed to find themselves back in the midst of addiction. Some may even be tempted to take their own life as a result.
Despite the gloomy picture painted by the relapse statistics there are many people who escape addiction and go on to build a great life. The individual can beat the relapse statistics by:
* Those individuals who are in rehab need to adequately prepare for their transition back home. All these facilities can do is provide the right resources, but it is always going to be up to the individual to make use of them – as the saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.
* Willingness to do whatever it takes to stay sober. If people are not fully motivated they will struggle to make it through the early months of recovery.
* It is vital that newly sober people take their aftercare seriously. By joining a 12 step group or using some other type of support they will be greatly increasing their chances of success.
* When people give up an addiction they need to break away from their drinking and drugging buddies. Failure to do this puts the individual’s sobriety at risk.
* It is important that those who are newly sober begin making new sober friends as quickly as possible. This is often easier for those who belong to recovery fellowships because they will usually be offered phone numbers and be invited out to coffee.
* In recovery it is always advisable to stick with the winners because these individuals can be inspirational and offer good advice. People tend to be highly influenced by those they spend time with so it pays to be with the right people as much as possible.
* Staying sober has to be the priority in the person’s life. They should not allow anything to come in between them and their sobriety.
* If people continue to use any other mind-altering substances in recovery they will struggle to achieve any type of sobriety. They will also be greatly increasing their chances of relapse.
* It is important that people avoid turning to other maladaptive behaviors in recovery such as workaholism.
* If the individual has realistic expectations about recovery they won’t be disappointed with the work involved in achieving success. It can take a few years before people feel completely comfortable in recovery, but they will have plenty of good days prior to this.
* Keeping an open mind is a necessary element of a successful recovery. Beginner’s mind means that the individual doesn’t allow their preconceived notions get in the way of trying new things.
* The idea that relapse is acceptable should never enter the thinking of people who are trying to stay sober. A return to alcohol or drugs is a risk and there is no guarantee that the individual will ever get another chance at a life away from alcohol and drugs.
* Recovery is to be enjoyed and not endured. If the individual feels like they are serving a prison sentence it is a sign that they are doing something wrong.
* It is vital that people in recovery recognize the common relapse triggers and learn how to avoid them. The acronym HALT can help people remember the most common relapse triggers in early recovery – these are, hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness.
* If people become sober but find it difficult to settle into their new life they should seek professional advice. It could be that they are dealing with an undiagnosed dual diagnosis involving depression or some other mental illness.