Life, with all its messiness, gives us a collection of stories that seem to tumble out of us (sometimes tumble over). Lives are more like Russian nesting dolls—one layer reveals another and another and another. And so it is with the story of addiction and recovery—a layered story that shows patterns of ups and downs, victories and difficulties. These layers are set upon each other and covered by human frailty, courage, and the possibility of redemption. This should undergird our understanding of a drug relapse.
Candidly speaking, relapse does exist. The dictionary may describe relapse as the “deterioration in someone’s state of health after a temporary improvement,” but let’s not be fooled by this academic tidiness. There is more to this story.
What Is Drug Relapse Reality?
For treatment centers like EagleCrest Recovery, a relapse isn’t simply one more drink or one more hit; it’s a process—a sequence of emotional and behavioral cascades that could, if left unaddressed, culminate in the physical act of using again. Using or drinking again is the final step of the relapse.
When talking about relapse, we look for the early signs, the small missteps that indicate you’ve lost your footing on the recovery path. Emotional relapse comes first—when you’re not thinking of using, but your behavior is setting you up for it.
The Act of Relapse
The actual physical relapse is the final act, the curtain drop. But at EagleCrest, we don’t toss you into the “failure” basket. We treat it as a symptom, a flare-up, much like a chronic illness might announce its return. It’s a sign to reassess your treatment plan, to dig deeper into the root causes and triggers, to fine-tune the interventions. We don’t judge you for losing your way, but we want to help you find your North again.
Statistically speaking, relapse is a possibility in any recovery journey. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, addiction relapse rates hover around 40-60%, like the rates for other chronic illnesses like hypertension and asthma. It’s a compelling figure that shows addiction isn’t a moral failing but a medical condition that needs ongoing care.
Did I Relapse?
Now, for the question that might be hanging over us—did I relapse? Relapse isn’t a one-size-fits-all term. Sometimes, it’s glaringly obvious, like finding yourself where you swore you’d never go again. Other times, it’s subtler, more nuanced. You might inch closer to the line, dabbling in behaviors that may not involve using but come perilously close to the mindset of your addicted days.
Straight up, if you’re asking the question, you already know there’s an issue. Maybe it’s a moment to reassess, adjust, and pick up your basket of prevention tools. And remember, you’re not just planting for today; you’re planting for a lifetime of tomorrows.
The Danger of Overdose
One sobering reality that looms especially large during a relapse is the risk of overdose. Your body has a delicate tolerance for substances. When you’ve been clean for a while, that tolerance drops. Returning to the same dosage as before is not like hopping back on a bicycle; it’s more like playing Russian roulette. Because your body isn’t prepared for the high dose, the risk of overdose skyrockets. It’s a grim reality, one that can’t be glossed over.
Drug Relapse Doesn’t Have to Be the End
But relapse doesn’t have to be the end. If you have started using again, don’t torment yourself. Instead it’s time to take action:
- Seek Immediate Help: The first thing is to get back into a safe environment. This could mean speaking to your sponsor, reaching out to your support network, or even going to an emergency room.
- Talk to Your Treatment Provider: Open lines of communication are vital. Discuss what led to the relapse and how you can prevent another.
- Adjust Treatment Plan: Relapse can provide new information on what’s effective in your treatment and what’s not. Maybe it’s time to consider different therapies or MAT medications.
- Forgive Yourself: The shame and guilt associated with relapse are natural but unhelpful emotions. It’s important to let go, forgive yourself, and focus on the present moment.
This could be the beginning of an important new stage of your full recovery.
Avoiding Drug Relapse
How does one go about avoiding relapse?
Similar to a garden, our recovery needs constant tending. Watering, sunlight, a touch of fertilizer, getting rid of the weeds. With this in mind, surround yourself with people who nourish your soul rather than drain it. Dive into activities that bring you life, things that reconnect you with the “you” beyond addiction. Establish a routine that includes self-care rituals. Acknowledge your triggers and plan for them. Finally, accountability is key—a garden grows best when it’s looked after regularly, and perhaps even shared with a fellow gardener.
What to Do If I Relapsed?
Remember this: There’s no story so dire that it can’t be rewritten. So, let it. Relapse can be another chance to set out again, to re-engage with the spiral of growth, which—though it may loop back on itself—always spirals upward toward the light.
Getting Help for Alcohol or Drug Relapse
If you or a loved one has relapsed, or even if you’re just teetering on the edge of that precipice, call EagleCrest Recovery.
Our phone number may be lifeline for your tomorrows: (844) 439-7627.