Does Relapse Mean Drug Rehab Has Failed?
If you can recall what it was like learning to ride a bike or what happened the first few times you went skiing then you know that it took a combination of determined effort and a few falls before there was smooth sailing. Just as a few falls did not mean that you could not learn to ride or ski, the occasional relapse does not mean an addict cannot achieve full and lasting recovery.
In fact, lapses (or relapses) are often part of the recovery journey. Addiction experts say that somewhere between one half to two thirds of those who go through drug rehab experience relapse. That may sound discouraging until you learn that 50 percent of those who experience relapse wind up achieving long-lasting recovery. Relapse does not indicate a failure, but seems to be a rather common aspect of drug rehab and recovery.
Those falls from the bike were learning experiences. You needed a firmer grip on the handlebars or to pedal faster – whatever it was, it took a fall for you to figure it out and make the needed change. Drug rehab is much the same. There is much that can be learned from relapse(s). New skills and habits take time and practice before they come naturally. Defeatist thinking views a fall/relapse as a failure. The person committed to recovery chooses to see it as a learning opportunity on the path to gaining new life skills and habits.
No one became an addict in one day. There were choices made over time until the person became enmeshed in a disease that took over their life. Reclaiming that life will also need to happen over time. The disease of addiction eventually touched every facet of the person’s thinking, behavior and relationships and releasing those areas to healthful, sober living can come in stumbling steps. Just remember that stumbling steps are still progress.
Because relapse is a reality of drug rehab it is best to have a plan ready in case your own recovery takes a temporary tumble. People don’t have to relapse, but relapses can be minimized by having a strategy in place ahead of time. Addicts in recovery can talk with counselors, family or others in their support group who would be willing to be there at the other end of a phone call or a door knock if relapse does occur. Drug rehab counselors can help you to identify triggers ahead of time so that you can avoid them and can also teach you new thinking patterns to fight drug cravings.
But, if you relapse don’t assume failure. Instead, stay calm and follow your plan. Get away from the drug or alcohol immediately. Contact someone you trust right away. After the fact, consider what you can learn from the experience. Remember that learning often comes through the mistakes that we make in life. he important part is getting back on the bicycle.