Things don’t always go the way you’d hope in the realm of alcohol and substance use disorder. Many parents know first-hand the feelings that come upon learning of a son or daughter's relapse. A return to drugs and alcohol is a painful occurrence for all concerned parties, especially when it happens after your child completes a treatment program. You did all the right things, and yet, the disease becomes active again. While it may seem logical to give up all hope that your adult child will find recovery, please resist the urge; relapse need not become the end of the story, countless people with long-term recovery share the common bond of a relapse in early recovery.
When all seems dark, hope is the flame that will help you guide your loved one out of the shadows and into the light of the spirit. Please don’t resign to thinking that treatment doesn’t work, and lasting recovery is a fiction; the former is an effective means of breaking the cycle and acquiring the tools for sustained progress, the latter is a reality and working a program allows people to lead a fulfilling life.
There Are Many Roads to Success in Recovery
Treatment and working a program works provided however that one is eternally vigilant in keeping the disease in remission. Problems arise when an individual becomes complacent, which is often the result of downplaying the importance of spiritual connection and fellowship. There is a salient acronym worth remembering, S.L.I.P. or Sobriety Lost Its Priority. People with a little bit of recovery time can delude themselves into thinking that life is good now, and they puzzle over why they need to “keep coming back.”
Telling yourself not to drink or drug, no matter what is helpful and all; although, it’s hardly a prophylactic for the cunning nature of one’s mental illness, alone. It’s amazing how effortlessly, and quickly a person can forget how bad it was before treatment, prior to learning that life is less complicated when you follow some simple suggestions. Individuals must never relent in recovery or lose sight of the fact that we are a work in progress; in more cliché terms, it’s the journey, not the destination that’s vital. Never will a day come when people wake up and think, ‘oh good, I’m recovered now.’ Unfortunately, the disease has a way of encouraging that line of thinking; seeds of doubt in the program’s value can quickly sprout into a relapse.
People relapse for different reasons; sometimes, chronic relapse ensues before finally grasping what is needed to stick with the program. At times, a regression is a merely a slip; it’s unfortunate, but individuals manage to get back up and address where they went off course. As long as addicts and alcoholics keep working at it, and families remain supportive even when it’s hard—such people will find the strength to carry on in recovery. There isn’t one path to lasting improvement, but there are things people can do and approaches they can take after a relapse that makes it harder to achieve one’s goals, i.e., shame, guilt, and unwarranted tough-love posturing.
Supporting Those Who Relapse
In meetings of recovery, members understand that relapse happens to even those who appear most diligent. Cunning, baffling, and powerful is the disease we’re contending with, so it’s vital for recovery fellowships to be a counterforce. Anyone who relapses is welcome back, the community’s arms are always open to those who want IT, and even for those who do not. Each person’s path is their own; we are all responsible for our inventory—nobody else's. The fellowship lends a hand whenever and wherever it can, without judgment.
At times, a relapse develops into full-blown active use; in such cases treatment might be in order. Just like a relapse, multiple stays in treatment are a part of many people’s story. It’s not uncommon to miss things the first time in a therapeutic environment. It’s critical, again, to not convince yourself that treatment didn’t work and decide that it doesn’t make sense to try again. Perhaps you might look at it a different way; it’s not that treatment didn’t work and that’s why you had a relapse; instead, the return to drugs and alcohol was the result of discontinuing practicing the things taught to you in rehab.
The next time around you or, in the case of parents, your loved one will investigate everything that precipitated your relapse. With help, people can see better that they lost sight along the way of some of the vital components of recovery. The course is then corrected, and the journey commences. Please contact Celebrate Hope to discuss treatment options.