Why Relapse Happens After Long-Term Sobriety

Raleigh Alcohol Rehab CenterOur focus recently has been on why chronic relapses happen to newly sober addicts. However, what few people realize is that addicts who have many years of sobriety under their belts are also at risk for relapse. Addicts who do not acknowledge the possibility of relapse, no matter how many years of sobriety they have, live in a dangerous state of denial. Regression is an ever-present threat to an addict's sobriety. Remaining vigilant about their commitment to their sobriety is just one of the many ways an addict who has enjoyed long-term abstinence maintains their sober status. Addiction is a difficult foe and should never be considered to be under control or completely overcome. The most successful recovered addicts are those who stay present and focused on their post recovery schedule and maintain a supportive therapeutic connection long after their initial sobriety has been established. If you know someone with a drug or drinking problem, call Legacy Freedom. Our Raleigh alcohol rehab center and drug treatment facility can help them.

Long-Term Sobriety

Many people are blindsided when a friend or loved one who has had years of sobriety begins to use again. The truth is that a number of reasons can trigger relapse. These triggers include:

Failing to use their coping strategies: Life events can disrupt an addict's schedule. These disruptions create the perfect storm for a relapse. Whether it is a long-term illness of a loved one, the loss or transition from one job to another, retirement, an extended vacation, or the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, any time a disruption occurs in the addict's schedule they are at risk for relapse. Failing to return to their schedule or to use the coping mechanisms that they have developed to get through these times of upheaval is what leads many sober addicts back to their drug of choice. The difficulties in their life make them susceptible to relapse. Friends and loved ones should be mindful of potential triggers and encourage the addict to return to their routine as soon as they are able. They should also seek out support from a therapist or a sober peer during these times of upheaval.

Undiagnosed or unmanaged mental health condition: Both an unmanaged or undiagnosed mental health condition can lead to the development of an addition. Many addicts choose to use alcohol or drugs as a way to manage the symptoms of their mental illness that they are experiencing. Through their recovery, many addicts receive mental health counseling in addition to their addiction treatments. Learning to cope with the underlying or co-occurring mental illnesses can lessen the effects of these mental health concerns for the addict and make their need to use alcohol or drugs to cope less severe. However, as they move further and further from their newly sober status and achieve long-term sobriety, many addicts fail to keep up with their mental health treatments. Though it may not cause an immediate relapse, over time the addict may begin to struggle with their mental health. This may include struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or any number of treatable mental illnesses. Returning to therapy to manage mental health needs may lessen the temptation to use drugs or alcohol for the addict. Continued mental health therapy and treatment is imperative to maintain long-term sobriety. At Legacy Freedom, our Raleigh alcohol rehab center and drug treatment facility also offers mental health programs. Call us today to learn more.

Falling back in with old friends: People can change. However, friends and acquaintances that used to be part of the addict's partying days can lead them back into the lifestyle of using. Addicts who have achieved numerous years of sobriety may think that they can be around those who haven't given up the lifestyle and not be tempted to drink or use drugs. In reality, no matter how long the addict has been sober there are still those that they cannot be around because of the temptation to use. Taking a shot or a hit "like the good old days" may be an invitation the addict can't refuse. The risk of associating with these people puts even the most seasoned recovered addict at risk for relapse.

Believing the lie: Drug addicts or alcoholics often think that they can have a drink or a hit and not become involved in the lifestyle again. Substance addiction is a lifelong condition that will never transition into an occasional or innocent habit. Regardless of how long you have been sober or how committed you believe you are to your sobriety, resuming your drug of choice, even if it is only occasionally, contributes directly to relapse.

When a relapse occurs for an addict admitting the decline and asking for help to seek treatment or return to recovery can be difficult. The addict feels ashamed of their actions and guilty for putting themselves, their loved ones, and their friends through the recovery process again. Many addicts struggle with feelings of extreme depression after relapsing. As a result, the number of suicides that accompany a loss of sobriety is very high. A relapse after long-term abstinence poses a danger to the addict's self-worth and mental well being as well as their physical health. Many former addicts find that they become very ill after using because their body is unable to process the toxins and chemicals in the drugs or alcohol.

The addict must realize that a return to sobriety is the only option. Returning to treatment, sober living, and therapy are essential for restoring a full and purpose-filled life. At Legacy Freedom, we know how difficult it is to admit that you have relapsed. Asking for help to return to your sober lifestyle after a relapse can be filled with guilt and shame. However, addiction is a lifelong struggle. We understand that relapses happen and that restoring your sobriety is essential for your mental, physical and emotional well-being.

For tips on helping a chronic relapsing person, click here.

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