It’s what we all worry about after attending an addiction treatment program… “What if I relapse?”
An overwhelming majority of those who attend addiction treatment programs will relapse multiple times before achieving successful, long-term recovery. Many times, relapse prevention education relies on managing immediate and tangible triggers. However, a solid philosophy of relapse prevention includes addressing the emotional traumas and underlying mental disorders that form the foundations for addiction.
We’ve put together a shortlist of brutally honest tried and true ways to guarantee relapse after an addiction treatment program. For more information or questions about preventing relapse in recovery, contact us at (818) 287-0080 or send us an email.
1. Go back to the old way of life.
It seems simple enough, but we often don’t realize how difficult it is to accomplish. We simply can’t go back to the old life and expect to succeed in recovery. We must change “People, places, and things,” according to traditional 12-step recovery programs – literally everything about life. The good news is, that everything in life will improve.
Going back to the old way of life exposes us to all of the old triggers and excuses to drink or use. It also gives us easy access to our substances, old dealers, and using buddies. Starting over in a new place, with a new job, new friends, and a new way of life gives us the best chance at success in recovery.
For those who have emotional traumas or abuse in their past, going back to the old way of life is especially dangerous. Healing from post-traumatic stress and trauma disorders requires removing oneself from the source of trauma. PTSD and trauma disorders should be treated as co-occurring disorders by licensed clinicians. Addiction treatment programs should always include assessments and appropriate treatment for dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders.
2. If you want to relapse, avoid recovery meetings and support groups.
It is easy to find enthusiasm for support groups and 12-step meetings in early recovery. As time passes, however, so does our meeting attendance. While this isn’t a cause of relapse in itself, it is typically an indication that other problems need to be addressed.
What happens when we stop attending meetings and support groups? We lose our connection with others, our support, and our accountability. We stop growing because we stop learning and healing. We often slip back into relying on our old coping mechanisms instead of the support of our homegroup. We let our guard down, and then relapse happens.
Staying engaged in recovery meetings and support groups keep us grounded in our recovery programs. It helps us maintain our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. It provides a network of friends who understand what it's like to struggle and will support our efforts to succeed in recovery.
3. Don’t heal from past emotional traumas and fear.
Most of us won’t escape emotional traumas, abuse, and fear at some point in our lives. Some of us will experience it to such a severe degree that it impacts our ability to succeed in life. Sometimes, we seek out chemical substances to help us cope with that pain and fear. Failing to address and heal from emotional traumas causes us to live in fear. It takes our courage from us and leaves us feeling vulnerable, valueless, and worthless.
It's important to begin the process of healing from emotional traumas and abuse during an addiction treatment program. It's also important to understand that addiction treatment won’t heal these wounds in a 30-day program. It is important to continue the healing process beyond an addiction treatment program. This may include psychiatric assessments and medication management, individual and group therapy, and life-skills practice.
4. If you want to relapse, don’t prioritize self-care.
Most of us in addiction will feel a lack of personal value, worthlessness, or uselessness. We often fail to see the importance of taking care of ourselves. We struggle to perform self-care tasks such as eating regular and healthy meals, exercising, showering, or even brushing our teeth. Poor self-care will negatively impact how we feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Without good self-care, successful long-term recovery is impossible.
Making self-care a top priority will greatly improve the quality and success of an addiction recovery program. Attend meetings, read the texts, and journal thoughts. Make friends and find a sponsor. Stick to a healthy diet and exercise regimen. Work hard, rest hard, and play often. Find a balance for all things in life but most importantly understand that you are worth taking care of. You are valuable in this world and you are loved.
5. Don’t find purpose and passion in life.
In active addiction, we struggle to find purpose and passion in our lives. We are apathetic and we feel useless. We get stuck in a pattern of thinking that we don’t have the power to change our own lives, let alone change the world. We suffer terribly from a lack of worth and usefulness. We seek out substances to dull the pain of those feelings.
We find our greatest successes and happiness when we create, build, and grow according to our interests and talents. As we achieve more in our lives, our confidence builds and we strive for greater accomplishments. We begin to see how we are valuable, useful, and loved. Our desire to numb our emotional pain will diminish as we find purpose and seek to fulfill that purpose. We take pride in ourselves and our accomplishments.
The single biggest indicator of success in recovery from addiction.
What does it take to be successful in recovery from addiction? It takes three things:
- The understanding that we have a problem that we can’t solve on our own.
- The belief that the problem can be solved, and the willingness to ask for help.
- The commitment to doing whatever it takes to solve the problem, and trusting the process.
For those who can successfully achieve these three steps, success in long-term recovery is guaranteed. These three steps represent the basis of the 12-step recovery process. It's a simple process, though it's not easy. Our mission at Miracles In Action is to guide our guests through the journey of successful recovery, overcoming all of the common causes of relapse. We focus on promoting mental, physical, and spiritual health in a positive, nonjudgmental environment.