Many people struggle to achieve lasting recovery from their addiction. They may be able to stop the abuse for good stretches of time but eventually they lose motivation and relapse. There are also those who seem to go from one rehab to the next while only managing short periods of sobriety after each treatment. This is sometimes described as revolving door syndrome. Those who relapse after a period of sobriety might never get another chance at recovery. It is therefore vital that people make every effort to build a lasting recovery away from addiction.
Those who relapse after a period of sobriety will usually find themselves back in the misery that they fought so hard to escape. Some individuals may be able to show a bit of control for a few weeks or months but most will just pick up exactly where they left off. It is common for addicts to find addiction harder to deal with after they have spent some time in recovery. This is likely due to experiencing the freedom of sobriety which provides a stark contrast to life as an addict.
The real danger with relapse is that there is no guarantee that the individual will ever be able to stop again. Before relapsing they may promise to stop again if things get bad, but this is easier said than done. It takes much motivation to escape addiction and some never develop enough determination to quit again. It is therefore crucial that the individual does all they can to prevent relapse.
Those who fail to achieve lasting sobriety usually fall victim to one of the following:
* They become too complacent about their recovery. They may have put enough effort into rehab, and the early days of recovery, but then convince themselves that the work is done. They fail to realize that recovery is an ongoing process where there is no real graduation day.
* People can have expectations that are unrealistic and this leads to disappointment. Walking away from alcohol or drugs does not guarantee a perfect life afterwards. It takes effort for anyone to build a successful life, and it does not happen overnight.
* A common reason for why people relapse is that they stop making progress. Recovery is full of challenges. If people fail to deal with problems effectively it can mean that they get stuck. This can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and resentment. Getting stuck usually is the first step in the relapse process.
* Some individuals do not make the necessary changes in their life that are needed to reduce the risk of relapse. They may continue to spend a lot of time with friends who abuse alcohol or drugs. If the only change that people make to their life is quitting drugs then this is unlikely to lead to a satisfactory life – this situation is sometimes described as dry drunk syndrome.
* Those who continue to use any type of intoxicant are taking a risk. In order to build a successful recovery it is advisable to keep away from all mind altering chemicals. Intoxication lowers people’s inhibitions and so greatly increases the risk of relapse. There is also the danger that people will become dependent on this other intoxicant.
* There are many addicts who have a dual diagnosis. This means that they have another mental health problem such as depression or anxiety. If this other condition is not treated then life in recovery will not be satisfying and so not worth maintaining.
* In order to avoid relapse the individual needs to be aware of the triggers for this and how to avoid them. This information will usually be provided in rehab but people will forget if they do not regularly refresh their memory.
Here are some of the common ingredients for long lasting recovery from addiction:
* Gratitude appears to be a key reason for why people remain free of addiction. When the individual values their sobriety they do not take it for granted so will fight harder to keep it.
* Those who make use of aftercare programs greatly increase their chances of success in recovery.
* Maintaining a positive outlook may be a key ingredient of success. Those who indulge in too much stinking thinking increase their risk of relapse.
* Having realistic expectations will mean that people are more content with what they have. It also means that they will be better prepared when things go wrong.
* Attendance at a 12 Step group helps many people remain committed to lifelong sobriety. Some will even choose to keep on attending these meeting even though they have been sober for many years. It is now generally accepted that the 12 Step program do not work for everyone, but they can prove effective for many.
* Awareness of relapse triggers is a must if people hope to build a lasting recovery. They will then be able to take action if their sobriety appears to be in danger.
* Ignoring problems is dangerous because it can lead to increased stress and dissatisfaction with life. Learning to face challenges is vital because this is what drives progress. Dealing with a challenge is the way that people can take their recovery to the next level.
* Using any type of intoxicant is dangerous for people in recovery and should be avoided.
* Sobriety is all about trying new things and pushing personal limits. If the only thing that changes is that the individual quits alcohol or drugs then this is unlikely to lead to happiness.
* If people are unhappy in recovery it is vital that they seek help. Just ignoring the situation is not going to make it go away.
Those individuals who make use of aftercare programs increase their chances of building a successful life away from addiction. These aftercare programs may involve booster sessions or follow-up meetings. It gives the client the opportunity to discuss any difficulties they are having. It also gives them to chance to develop new skills and coping strategies. The other great advantage of such programs is that they work to keep people motivated and focused on what is important. Aftercare is particular important during the first year or two of recovery.
There is disagreement about the necessity of lifelong attendance at support groups. There are many individuals who claim that this is what keeps them sober – even though some of the people have been sober for decades. There are also other individuals who seem to manage quite well without regular attendance at support groups. They have built a good life in recovery and are able to do all the things necessary to maintain their sobriety without the need of any type of support. There may be no clear answer as to necessity of lifelong attendance at a support group. It is up to each individual to determine what works best for them. Some people just enjoy belonging to a fellowship and it is this that keeps them going year after year.