Relapsing is Part of Recovery

Relapsing can be defined as going back to drug or alcohol abuse after a period of time of abstaining. Going through the treatment process can give you the tools needed to tackle coping with difficult situations and emotions instead of turning to drugs and alcohol. However, relapse can happen. Relapse shouldn’t be looked at as a sole event that has turned into a failure in your life. Rather, it is important to look at it as a process, and something that you are able to work through.

When someone is relapsing, there are often many red flags that happen first. These red flags can include:

  • Becoming too confident in their sobriety, thinking all they need to do is abstain and not work their program
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Exercise too little or too much
  • Shopping or gambling too much
  • Entering into a new, romantic relationship very shortly after treatment
  • Believing they are only addicted to one substance (such as opiates) and not another (such as alcohol)
  • Believing life will be “easy” when they are sober

All of these red flags are part of the process of a relapse. If you are recognizing any of these signs in your own life or the life of someone you love, it is important to not ignore them and to take action. While in treatment, it is important to come up with a plan for in case relapse were to happen. It is important to stick to this plan and hold accountable to it, so that you or your loved one can get back on track to a healthy, happy, sober life.

Use Relapsing as a Learning Experience

When coming out of a person with substance use disorderion and entering treatment, it takes a long time to untangle the damage done to a client’s life, their relationships and their living situations. All the work done in treatment are building blocks to start a healthy life, and it is important to stick to these values and things learned while in treatment.

Statistically, most relapses occur within the first 90 days of leaving treatment. This can unfortunately bring a lot of emotions of failure to someone who has just worked so hard to fix all their misgivings. It can make it hard to be honest about their relapse to their loved ones who have worked to get them to a better place. This can further spiral someone back into their addiction. It is important to not look at relapse as a complete failure that should be condemned.

Instead of looking at relapsing as a failure, we should look at it as a learning opportunity. A relapse experience can bring a great wealth of insight, such as certain triggers that you were unaware of the first time you entered treatment. There may also be certain traumatic events that your brain has suppressed that are now coming up after treatment. You may need to work through these as well as other depression and anxiety symptoms that were not there before. It takes time to rewire our brains back to a healthy state, so relapse gives you an opportunity moving forward to now be able to recognize the signs of relapse and exactly what happens to you.

Alter Your Treatment After Relapse

Since relapsing gives us a learning opportunity into new triggers, feeling, events or behaviors we weren’t aware of before, it is now time to alter treatment to prevent it from happening again. Sobriety is still possible, given that relapse is a common occurrence and can happen to anyone, so do not become discouraged. Instead, be open and honest about your relapse so that your treatment can change to reflect your new situation. This can include:

  • Joining a support group
  • Finding a sponsor
  • Associating with people who encourage your sobriety
  • Increasing therapy and counseling sessions
  • Begin new healthy hobbies such as volunteering, joining a sports league or workout regimen
  • Talking to a doctor about any medications you may be taking

When a relapse happens, it is important to take action immediately. Many people might be uncomfortable or ashamed to reach out to friends or family members. Because of this, it is important to have a post-treatment plan with people you can stay accountable to.

About Cliffside Malibu

Even though you have dedicated yourself to the recovery process and becoming sober, relapsing can happen. It is important to be prepared for when this happens, so that you do not slip back into the throes of a powerful addiction that could be fatal. Cliffside Malibu offers comprehensive outpatient services for people who have completed residential treatment. We work to make sure you have a plan for when you leave, and someone to be held accountable to. This can include a sober coach, a sober living facility or an outpatient counseling group in your area.

Recovery isn’t just about staying sober, it is about completely changing your life and breaking old patterns. Relapse is a time to reflect on what happened and what may have been missing in your treatment, so that you can make sure it does not happen again. Each patient is then matched with one of these five stages of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. An individualized treatment plan is created based on their current stage of change. This process is in place to ensure that all our patients receive the best treatment path possible for their own specific need. Our goal is to move individuals through their treatment by assessing their readiness for change and formulating stage-matched interventions in order to move them through their respective stage.

It is the policy of Cliffside Malibu to ensure that all individuals who present with chemical dependency issues are assessed for the appropriate level of care. We strive to provide continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Services are provided to individuals with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction. Individuals seeking treatment are assessed by qualified staff to ensure program criteria are met and that each individual admitted is placed in the appropriate level of care for treatment. The program is designed and structured for individuals who are in need of a supportive environment in order to maintain Sobriety.

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