Yes, you heard it correctly. Relapse is a choice. This may seem confusing since we have said many times in the past that addiction is not a choice. Please allow us to explain.
Addiction is a very tricky disease. It is the only one that actually speaks to a person. It tells us we are okay. It allows us to believe that although our life is falling apart around us, we still have everything under control.
Addiction is defined as a chronic brain disease, characterized by compulsive drug seeking behavior and use, despite adverse effects and consequences.
Someone does not choose addiction. There comes a point in life where an addict crosses over the invisible line of casual use to full blown addiction. This usually happens without someone even realizing it.
Although the beginning stages of drug use are a complete conscious decision made by the individual, once those chemicals change the brain’s makeup, addicts lose control. A person does not decide how their body will respond to a substance, hence the reason some become addicted and some do not.
Here’s the other tricky piece to it all. Once an addict gets themselves cleaned up through detox and treatment and begins going to a 12-step program, using then does become a choice.
Through treatment and the fellowship, we are shown there is another way. We are taught that in order to maintain sobriety we need to take certain steps to do so, and have all the necessary tools at our disposal.
Relapse is possible to avoid if we take advantage of everything we are taught. Although it is a huge reality for many suffering with the disease of addiction, relapse is not a requirement. If an addict uses again after they have been shown the way of recovery, it is solely a choice they decided to make. You are not a victim to relapse.
There are certain steps a person can take to avoid relapse, especially in early sobriety.
- Detox & Treatment – Of course this is the first step. Usually it is difficult for someone to fight through withdrawal symptoms and cravings alone, nor is it safe to do so. A medically supervised detox is always recommended. Treatment is where you will learn about your disease and be given the necessary tools to maintain lasting sobriety.
- Aftercare Program – A Continued Care Plan is essential in early sobriety. After someone returns home from rehab, they can find themselves becoming very overwhelmed with a multitude of things; feelings they have never learned to cope with, rebuilding relationships, and cleaning up the destruction their addiction created. A drug and alcohol counselor or outpatient program can be a great sounding board for all that early sobriety can bring about.
- 12-Step Fellowship – Sobriety is a life-long process. Addiction can never be cured, but can be managed. This is where we learn how to maintain sobriety through finding & trusting in a higher power, helping others and ultimately learning to be the best version of ourselves possible. We cannot stay sober by partaking in the same lifestyle as before.
For over 40 years, Clearbrook has had the honor of treating those with addiction and showing them that there is a better way to live. We will teach you about the disease of addiction, the relapse syndrome and give you the tools to build a better life.
If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, know that you do not have to do it alone. Contact our Admissions Specialists today and begin on the road to recovery.