What Is Relapse?

black-and-white-flight-man-personDo you have a family member or loved one in recovery? Are you not sure what that really means and need help understanding relapse and recovery? Recovery Guide can shed some light on this process and aide families and clients as they learn coping tools, engage differently with their loved one and learn to establish healthy boundaries. Relapse is a term used for individuals who have returned to using drugs after a time of abstinence.

Someone who has freed themselves form dependence on drugs and alcohol are thought of as being in “recovery.” We at Recovery Guide tend to think these terms are misused, since most people are engaged in addictive behaviors all the time. From compulsive shopping, risky sexual behaviors, gambling, pornography, excessive eating – the list goes on – our culture is quick to judge those who are recovering from drugs or alcohol as a menace to society. The hypocrisy causes us to pause and reevaluate how we measure and define relapse and recovery. Recovery Guide takes a holistic approach.

We commonly only view those who are using hard drug or alcohol as being and addict. What does it mean that tobacco kills nearly 6 million people annually around the world? Aren’t those people addicts too? And why only when I stop using drugs am I then in recovery? How do I take one day at a time? What does that mean? These are all questions families have when helping their loved ones. These questions can be imperative and important when at the height of addiction.

Because addiction is a chronic illness, meaning reoccurring, one must begin a new and different dialogue about the disease. Our culture has deemed what is normal and thus structured all forms of treatment around what is “normal.” This boxed-in approach to treatment, while valuable to some, is not for everyone. A person who looses the desire, even for a short time, to use substances and has a free choice over impulsive thoughts and behaviors is exhibiting recovery – no matter how big or small. It is these small victories that can create long-lasting recovery behaviors.

Keeping this mentality of overcoming addictive behaviors can be really difficult, but with the right help and continual support it is possible. True freedom from addiction comes from controlling and maintaining thoughts, behaviors, beliefs and interactions, as well as learning new behaviors and thought patterns. Addicts and alcoholics have a resistance to change. This resistance shows up in the form of narcissistic behaviors, lashing out and saying things like, “you don’t know me and don’t understand what I’ve been through.” Oftentimes, this resistance is really internal emotional turmoil showing up as confrontation. Other attitudes to be concerned about are apathy and procrastination.

The only way recovery happens at Recovery Guide is for the client and their family to review the past. It’s important to be open to new ideas and possibilities, as well as to keep an open mind. It’s difficult to have new ideas with a closed mind. Remaining positive, be authentic, listen to others and try new things – these are all important things to keep in mind when beginning treatment. Let me know what you think about recovery and how it affects you or your family.