Anyone that is familiar with addiction recovery understands that relapse is part of recovery. It does not signal failure, but because addiction is a chronic disease, prevention and management of relapse are skills taught to individuals in recovery right away. Normally, relapses can occur at any time during recovery. Something triggers the uncontrollable urge to use again, and those in recovery during medication assisted treatment need to be armed with the knowledge to turn the page and move on. Tuck that experience of the relapse under the belt, learn from it, pray it is the last one, and move on.

The bigger problem is when the relapses become chronic. It is not once or three times but frequently. Even chronic relapse is part of the recovery from drugs or alcohol addiction, believe it or not. Chronic relapse is not incurable or an indication of failure but rather another chapter in the process of recovery. Unfortunately, some people have to endure this before they can become successful at recovering.

Not everyone recovers the same. There is no cut-and-dry solution to treating addiction. Yes, chronic relapse can be tough on the families and even harder on the individual battling with recovery. Families get discouraged and frustrated because they feel that treatment was useless, and the individual feels worthless, hopeless, and knows they have let the ones they love most down. The truth is, it is no one’s fault.

It can be very difficult for the person who is trying to recover to overcome these feelings of hopelessness, and at this point, many families will decide to give up because they are so frustrated.  Giving up is the last thing you want to do. At this point, it is time to redesign the relapse prevention plan. An effective strategy involves networking with every existing resource. These resources include attendance at individual and group therapy sessions, regular interactions with sponsors, attendance at 12-step programs such as AA or NA, and family assistance and support.

Many possibilities have to be explored, such as changing residence, job, neighborhood, circle of friends and acquaintances, addressing and replacing the old behaviors that contributed to addiction, identifying the shortcomings of the current relapse prevention plan, and making room in life for those who understand the problems of trying to live a sober life.

Keep in mind that addiction is a chronic problem, and the recovering addict can relapse because the brain is characterized by habitual drug use in spite of knowing the damaging consequences. So, no one said it is going to be easy, but it promises to be worth it.

Walking into a drug and alcohol treatment center and completing the program is not the complete answer to sobriety; in fact, it is just the beginning, and drug and alcohol treatment is the very best start that you can give yourself. It is time to start treating yourself well and begin living a life that you will be proud of. The best news is that while this will be a difficult journey, it will also be a beautiful journey as well.

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