“Relapse is part of recovery.” | We hear that statement all the time…is it really? Before we address this issue, we should take a look at what relapse really is and how it is defined.
Relapse, in a broad sense of the word, is defined as “falling back into a former state, or returning to an active phase of a disease after a partial recovery.” Maybe the biggest key to this definition is the part that says “partial recovery.” Unless you have begun to recover and taken the steps necessary for that recovery, going back to a state of active addiction isn’t a relapse. The other statement that applies here is that “nothing changes if nothing changes.”
An even more specific definition of relapse when it applies to an addictive illness is “a return to attitudes, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors that lead back to active addiction.” That doesn’t mean that someone won’t occasionally go back to old behaviors. It is when the recovering addict refuses to allow others in recovery to point out these character defects before they lead to using or drinking again.
What Are The Identifying Factors Of Relapse? | You will hear the sentence in recovery communities and groups that say “A relapse ends when the addict/alcoholic drinks or uses again.” If that statement holds any weight then that means that there are behaviors and attitudes that should be looked out for before the person picks up again. Everyone’s relapse presents its own set of circumstances and a mixture of the changes that precede it. What should a loved one or the addict themselves be looking out for? Here is a list of some of the common factors that precede a relapse.
- Not going to as many 12 step meetings
- Not having or utilizing a sponsor
- Comparing rather than seeing similarities to others in recovery
- Ego – Both feeling better than or worse than others
What To Do If You’re In Relapse Mode | If you see that you are in the downward spiral of relapse and you haven’t picked up drugs or alcohol yet there are many things that you can do before you make the decision to drink or use again. In 12-step recovery models, the greatest asset we have to help us is other people in recovery. That is why they are called fellowships. They are groups of people that have experienced all the phases of recovery. They have been through the extreme “ups and downs” that we go through. The three essentials of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness will save you when nothing else will be able to. The best thing that can be done is to surrender to self-will; stop trying to do this on your own….give up the fight!
In order to give up though, you are going to need some help. This is where a sponsor, home group, and a higher power can help you. Honesty is going to be your best ally here too. No matter what is going on, this relapse into old thinking and behaving can be impeded by just talking to someone or something to help you out of it. It usually involves changing something or a few different things in our lives to get back on the beam of recovery.
The problem comes in when someone isn’t willing to do that and we rely on self to fix it. If we could have fixed our character defects in the past we never would have gotten into the situations we did. The answer is simple…ask for, and accept, help! What else have you got to lose?