An American Addiction Centers Resource

New to the Forums?Join or

Be Realistic - Expect Relapses

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Loved One' started by LostmySis, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. LostmySis

    LostmySis Senior Contributor

    I think a major issue many family members/friends deal with is the "after glow" of recovery. Often when we see an addict doing well, we have wanted for so long for this to occur... that we go into a denial. We see what we want to see.

    Imagine an addict going through a 30 day rehab, comes home clean and things seem to be going good. Those around the addict often think everything is behind them. The disease is under control, the person is back to normal and life has tons of possibilities. These are the people who are in denial, and they suffer greatly when reality hits.

    Recovery does not make everything great and rosy. Often recovery creates new problems. The addict most likely used substances to deal with stress in their lives and now they must deal with stress without it. It can be an uncharted territory for them. Often the same traits/reactions the addict had while using can re-emerge, which can confuse those around him/her.

    Always be aware that relapse in the beginning is probably. Just because the person is trying and is clean right now, does not mean it is "over". The same way someone on a diet has temptations to cheat and grab some chocolate, the addict will have cravings.

    Don't drive yourself crazy by failing into the "it's over" trap. It is not over... it will never be "over" because it is a lifetime condition. It can get better.. but be aware it can return. Don't hate the addict, hate the disease.
    Rainman likes this.
  2. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    Recovering addicts themselves may also overestimate their new-gained power over a substance. IMO one can't be powerful enough to resist a drug should they expose themselves or hang around others who use it. There's one of my neighbors who was an alcoholic. He committed some crime, and was jailed for two years. At some point while serving his sentence he was converted into Christianity. He even became a preacher.

    But after a year . . . he started slipping. Several months later he was back in the bar.

    No matter how long it takes, if someone had been using a substance at one time they just might find themselves drawn back and for that reason they must know the triggers and avoid them, cut out people who'd be a bad influence from their lives, etc, and they'd be relatively safe.
  3. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I agree. I think people who don't understand the situation assume that being an addict can be cured, but on the contrary addicts usually tend to stay addicts for life but merely are able to control it much better after recovery. It would be risky to expect that once an addict is cured then he or she would be safe so it really is best to understand that it is a lifetime struggle and in that context, errors like these might not seem as surprising.
  4. LostmySis

    LostmySis Senior Contributor

    good point. Addicts often do not realize how powerless they are, and can have too much confidence and thus give false security to the family. People, places, things are what trigger recovering addicts. The alternative is Jail, Institution or Death. There is no in between. The sooner people realize this, the sooner they can handle the situation in a realistic manner.
  5. ayywithemm

    ayywithemm Member

    Nothing in life is ever easy. It's easy for people to think that after a short stint in rehab they are stronger and better now, almost invincible. This belief transfers to the family too who will welcome this news with open arms.
    The person is actually quite vulnerable and it is very easy to crack under the smallest amount of pressure, having a relapse.
    What the main issue here is whether they have the strength and will to become clean again.
  6. kita

    kita Member

    My mother is an alcoholic and have been for numerous treatments, even shock therapy. Every single time it would go well for a while and then bam! I'm picking her up in the streets again. In the end of the day there is no treatment or magical cure that will work. If the person in question cannot admit to having a problem and really want to change, nothing will work. Its been 27 years and my mother still does not believe she has a problem. Probably the reason why she always relapses.
  7. Scopp

    Scopp Member

    Thank you for that helpful insight. A dear friend of mine seems to stay sober for a few months at a time and then relapse, and from the outside its been very difficult for me to understand. But he made a decision to stop spending time with the person who had originally gotten him into drugs. He's never been willing to do that before, so I'm really hoping that this time will be different.
  8. btatro

    btatro Member

    Yup, it's never "over" for an addict. I think it's easy like you said to bask in the glow of soberness, but there is also an incredible amount of pressure. Pressure to be perfect, to say the least, because any dabble or mistake will automatically mean they failed. (They didn't really fail). Addiction is long term.
  9. hellonamesdana

    hellonamesdana Senior Contributor

    I think my biggest mistake with my mom and her alcoholism was always thinking that the last time would actually be the last time, if that makes sense. She would say she was going to stop and then she would start right back up again within no time at all, even after me begging her not to. And half of the time she honestly doesn't know what she is doing wrong, or that the hurtful and nasty things that she says to people are both uncalled for and unnecessary, or that as much as she would like to believe that her drinking helps "take the edge off" it's doing so much more harm rather than good.