What is considered a Relapse in Recovery?
When you are in treatment for drugs or alcohol, the biggest thing you want to prevent is a relapse in recovery. It is a lot of hard work to stay sober, and the end goal is to stay away from any kind of mood altering substance.
There is a lot of debate on what is considered a relapse. For example, if a recovering heroin addict has a beer, is that a relapse? Or, if an alcoholic smokes a little marijuana, does that count? While every person’s recovery is a completely individual process, the best thing you can do is stay away from everything.
What’s a Relapse?
When a person relapses, it means they are trying to abstain from drugs or alcohol and falter. If it happens to you, it may be because you had a moment of weakness, or gave in to temptations, or a life event got the better of you and you felt like the only place you could get some clarity was in your substance of choice.
A relapse in recovery happens in stages, not all at once. At first, a person thinks about relapsing to the point where they may obsess about it. After that comes the second stage where a plan is put into place of the relapse. For example, you may think about who you will get the drugs from, where you will do them, and who you will do them with. The third stage is the part where you actually go to the place, pick up drugs or alcohol, and ingest them. This third stage is what you want to avoid. Treatment should give you the tools you need to help prevent getting to the third and final stage of relapse. It is up to you to use them wisely.
If you do relapse on any substance, you can’t completely devastate yourself over it. The reality is that relapse happens in recovery quite often. It is challenging to stay sober, and only those who are extremely dedicated can do it. In the event of a relapse, don’t be shy about getting help. The sooner you can catch it, the better. Talk to someone you trust about what happened and look for help.
If you are in a situation where relapse is hard to avoid, like living with active drug addicts or alcoholics, it is important to remove yourself from the situation. Staying sober is hard enough without temptation in your face all the time. You are much more important than that.
Relapse in Recovery. The Bottom Line.
People have different beliefs about what is considered a relapse in recovery. However, in reality it means that you should absolutely abstain from any mood altering substance, even if it is not the same one you went to rehab for in the first place. It is very common to replace one addiction for another, so you want to avoid falling into that trap and cycle of addiction.
Recovery means being in a sober mind set. This means you cannot drink, you cannot smoke pot, and you should even avoid substances like kratom and kava. A common question is about prescription medication. What happens if you have an ailment and need something from the doctor? Or you have surgery and get prescribed opioids afterwards. Situations like this are up to your discretion, but many addictions begin with these kinds of drugs, and people who are dedicated to a sober lifestyle avoid them at all costs. Substitutes exist that provide comparable relief without the negative consequences of addiction, so talk to your doctor about your options and be honest about your history.
In the end, you went to treatment to achieve a sober lifestyle. The longer you avoid relapse in recovery, the more you will see that you don’t need drugs or alcohol to have fun or feel good. The best thing to do is avoid them all together, no matter what the substance is. We all know addiction is a slippery slope, so it isn’t worth it to even test out the waters.