It’s an unfortunate reality and sometimes impossible to avoid. Relapse is the big demon on the road as we head out of addiction on the road of recovery. There are many reasons for relapse and it really depends on the person in question, but there are some common factors to bear in mind so you can confront your own temptations head on.
1 – Refusal to Give up Friends & Connections to the World of Addiction
There’s an old 12-step saying that goes; ‘If you hang out at a barber shop, eventually you’re going to get a haircut.’ It can be difficult to part ways with old friends or beloved places but the truth of addiction is that if you continue to surround yourself with the elements of your past that contributed (even indirectly) to your addiction, eventually the triggers will catch you at the wrong time or frame of mind and send you spiralling back into addiction.
2 – Undiagnosed Psychiatric Issues
More than half of all struggling addicts are also subject to the effects of a mental health problem that goes untreated even after addiction treatment. This can be chronic depression, bipolar disorder, or acute anxiety. If these are forces in your life that persist even after you get rid of the drugs, it’s possible that the condition will pull you back into self-medication and ultimately addiction relapse.
3 – Extreme Life Events
The daily slog can be manageable for most recovering addicts from the outset but all it takes is one high-velocity event to impact your life– for good or ill– and everything is thrown into spin. Something traumatic like job loss or divorce can seriously challenge your commitment to sobriety, but even good things like a marriage or promotion can tempt you to celebrate in old-fashioned (drug-induced) ways. Staying in contact with a support group and/or sponsor is important, especially in these pivotal times of life.
4 – Relationships
Getting involved in a romantic or sexual relationship before you’re ready can spell disaster if you aren’t ready for all that comes with it. This includes the demise of the relationship. Recovery requires a great deal of focus and commitment so when your attention is split between your health and your new relationship, there is a greater chance for a misstep.
5 – Thinking You’re Cured
After enough time goes by and you’ve been sober for a couple of years, the devastating events of your past associated with addiction can seem like another lifetime. Gradually, over time, the thought can sneak in on you that you’ve somehow fully recovered and can handle alcohol or drugs differently now. Something like alcohol is notorious for this because there are always people there to encourage you to drink. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because it happened so long ago that you are no longer at risk of a full blown relapse. Sobriety and recovery are lifetime quests.