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Why Do You Think Addictions Get Worse After a Relapse

Discussion in 'General Substance Abuse Discussion' started by Rainman, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    When a friend of mine was trying to quit drinking, he initially didn't drink a lot. He was out in a bar a few nights every week. He decided to fight his addiction when his drinking almost cost him his job. When things got back to normal he started drinking again but this time round he'd drink every night. No longer did he care about his job anymore.

    I've noticed that many addicts after a failed to attempt to overcome their addictions get progressively worse with each abortive attempt and the relapse that follows. This is one reason why someone fighting an addiction should fight hard to avoid relapsing because if it does happen then his/her addiction will worse than it was.

    Why do you think this happens? Addictions getting worse after a relapse? Is it a psychological response? Some desire for compensation or something akin to it?
  2. Psyduck

    Psyduck Active Contributor

    I'm not really an expert but I feel that, the time of recovery gives the person the incentive to continue. After recovery, when he starts going back to the same habits, he now can be sure that if things go bad, he can just slip back and recover and doesn't have that fear of losing himself.
  3. kassie1234

    kassie1234 Community Champion

    I'm not an expert either but I agree with psyduck - I think when you know how well you've been doing, it pushes you to keep going. It's like that mindset of "why would I give up on all that hard work - I've already been away from (drinking, smoking, whatever) for X amount of time", whereas when you have a relapse it can seem soul crushing.

    I think a lot of the time when we face setbacks, it can seem like one hurdle is the end of the road - when realistically, we just have to keep jumping them!
    Rainman likes this.
  4. Dwayneu

    Dwayneu Community Champion

    I've experienced it first-hand, and in my case, it was very sad and disappointing for me that I relapsed. You feel worthless, and like a screw up for slipping up and going back to the abyss, so you just descend further. Your hopes get crushed, and if you can't face failure, your relapse will be times worse.
  5. L_B

    L_B Community Champion

    I would say that this is exactly it. The person feels like they are a failure. That they have not only let down themselves but so many others who were supporting on them.
  6. pwarbi

    pwarbi Community Champion

    While I can only speak from experience, I'm not sure if that's the case with everyone. I myself relapsed after my first attempt at giving up the alcohol, but I didn't drink any more than what I was doing before, I just slipped back into my old habits.

    For the ones that do, all I can think is that they drink to try and block out the disappointment in themselves they'll feel.
  7. anorexorcist

    anorexorcist Community Champion

    I think that is a psychological response, it may sound silly but it's like if your body were punishing itself for have failed in the attempt to get better, I don't want to generalize but I've met a few people who describe their relapses like this.
  8. irishrose

    irishrose Community Champion

    I think @Dwayneu has a good point. After relapsing, one may feel like they failed, which can cause one to feel depressed. It is important that if this happens, to keep in mind that recovery is an ongoing process that takes time. It does not happen over night. You can still overcome addiction after relapsing.
  9. Jasmine2015

    Jasmine2015 Community Champion

    So does t he relapse act kind of like a viscous cycle of sorts? Like if you relapse by accident you feel depressed and because you feel depressed you keep doing what you are doing? No wonder it would be hard to come out of a relapse.
  10. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    Yes, it could probably because they got depressed of the relapse or blamed themselves too much because of it. It could also be like their body is longing for the substance that they take too much of it after a period of time without using.
  11. Dwayneu

    Dwayneu Community Champion

    Exactly. It's relatively easy to stay clean when all is going well and smooth, but life just doesn't work that way. There are edgy, rough moments, and that's where your true strength shines. You could be months, years clean and a chain of events and emotional turmoil can make you relapse because of the habit of numbing the pain with substances.
  12. pwarbi

    pwarbi Community Champion

    A lot of people that have been through recovery will manage to stay clean and not think about the past, move on from the addiction. That's a lot easier when life is normal and level.

    It IS when things go wrong that they'll again maybe start to look for the crutch they had before with the drug, that's when the relapse is more likely.
  13. serenity

    serenity Community Champion

    I just read that relapse is a natural part of recovery ( and it says that:

    "Once people have experienced the freedom of recovery it can mean the misery of addiction is more obvious. The individual may respond to their
    increased awareness of this suffering by increasing their intake of alcohol or drugs to escape the pain."

    So I guess that is one reason why addictions gets worse after a relapse.
    True concern likes this.
  14. dyanmarie25

    dyanmarie25 Community Champion

    Probably because most addicts would feel really disappointed, and depressed whenever they have relapsed. And this could somehow make them resort to drugs/substances even more. They would sometimes think that they can never really overcome their addictions.
  15. pwarbi

    pwarbi Community Champion

    Relapse IS a part of the recovery process, but people who relapse don't see it like that. They will feel like they have failed and they'll lose all motivation.

    If people have a support network around them then it can help soften the blow of relapse and help them to try again with their recovery.
    Dominica likes this.
  16. Tsky45

    Tsky45 Community Champion

    I think it's usually people giving up after disappointment. The best thing to do after a relapse is get back up and try again. You have to be used to not feeding your addiction and it takes time. It's really about being consistent. Over time as you continue to build up your resistance against the temptation you can avoid a relapse.
  17. Sid Vaenar

    Sid Vaenar Member

    It seems the nature of most substances is such that one needs higher dose the longer they stay addicted. Just to maintain the same effect. When I used to quit smoking and relapsed one year and half later, I smoked a whole pack of cigs during one Xmas night.

    Sure I felt like crap the next morning and didn't smoke that much on the next day, but it happened to me more than once.
  18. doatk22

    doatk22 Community Champion

    Maybe it's because subconsciously they think since they did it once, they can just stop whenever they want. I don't know why they go harder, but that could be part of it.
  19. knitmehere

    knitmehere Community Champion

    I think that it really just depends on the person.

    For some people, relapse is the point in which they realize that they really do need to fight harder. They saw themselves become that person again and know that they need it to stop.

    For other people, they see themselves like that again and decide that they are too weak to stop, and they just progressively get worse.
  20. Babs1349

    Babs1349 Member

    So when someone relapses and gets depressed because they started again, do you treat alcoholism or depression?