There are many steps to treat different substance addictions, like alcohol addiction and drug addiction. Realistically, for many people who are walking the path of addiction recovery, relapse will be one of those steps. Relapse is not something to be ashamed about, but it can be something you intentionally try to avoid to reduce the chances of it happening.
Avoiding relapse often depends on understanding why it happens in the first place. Relapse happens for many reasons, so we’ll take a look at a few of the most common reasons here.
Five common reasons why people recovering from addiction relapse:
- Waning confidence: You are the only person who can decide to fight addiction by going through a recovery or treatment program. Because you are at the helm of your recovery, your confidence in your abilities to take yourself through that program makes a huge difference, regardless of how many others are helping you. Low confidence or low “self-efficacy” can slow down your recovery or tempt you into relapse. Remember: You are stronger than your addiction – always.
- Unclear motivating factors: People who make the clear decision to fight their drug or alcohol addiction are more likely to succeed than those with unclear motivating factors. For example, a new father decides he needs to find and maintain sobriety so that he can better help raise his child. He has a strong motivating factor to succeed, so he will innately have a stronger chance of success. On the other hand, someone who joins a recovery program but hasn’t decided why could struggle and be at a higher risk of relapsing. Of course, everyone can avoid relapsing, regardless of their situation. Don’t assume you’re destined to relapse just because you are still figuring out your motivation to become sober.
- Misdirected coping skills: When faced with conflict and strife, your coping skills are what pave the path immediately beyond. Confronting the problems of addiction are no different. People with healthy coping skills are less likely to relapse than those with misdirected or harmful coping skills. For example, coping by seeking a new method of addiction treatment is better than “coping” by starting a new addiction, like picking up smoking while trying to quit drinking.
- Problematic external influences: A relapse risk factor that is as significant as it is frustrating is a problematic external influence, such as friends who do not encourage sobriety. While on the path to recovery and sobriety, you need to pay attention to friendships and relationships that could be impeding you, rather than supporting you. Don’t forget to be mindful of your coworkers’ behaviors, too, as they are often overlooked. Try to surround yourself with people who genuinely care about your recovery and understand why it is so important to you. Another negative external influence is any sort of stressor that you could avoid. For example, drive as little as possible if driving stresses you out or makes you feel tempted to drive to the liquor store.
- Lack of family support: Other important relationships to maintain while recovering and to avoid relapsing are your relationships with your family. Time and again, people who are in a treatment recovery program without a healthy home life have a higher risk of relapsing due to the stresses they encounter when they are with their families. As with problematic friends, attempt to distance yourself from problematic family members if you can.