Don't Give Up! Relapse Doesn't Mean Treatment Has Failed or That You're A Failure
If the use of drugs or alcohol is currently affecting your life because you're dependent on them, you may feel you either don't have a problem, you can handle it on your own, or that treatment is a waste of time because you sought help in the past and it didn't work.
This is a common reaction most people have if they're still in denial and haven't received help or they have relapsed during or after completing a substance abuse program. It's also not abnormal for a person to scoff at the thought of receiving help for a substance use problem if they've never received treatment for their addiction before.
Substance Abuse or Addiction Denial
I understand that it's hard to admit to yourself let alone someone else that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol but your life will only get worse without help and support. If you're still in denial as to whether or not alcohol or drugs are having a negative effect on your life, examine these few questions and answer them honestly to yourself.
- Has it ever crossed your mind that possibly you could have a problem with drugs or alcohol?
- Has anyone that cares about you ever told you that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol?
- Have you tried to stop drinking or using drugs but were unsuccessful?
- Has your use of alcohol or drugs ever affected your performance at school or work?
- Has your use of alcohol or drugs affected your relationship with someone you care about?
- Can you be totally honest with the people that care about you, how much and how often you drink or use drugs?
- Have you ever stolen anything in order to obtain drugs or alcohol?
- Do you have to drink or use a drug shortly after waking up?
- Do you have to drink or use drugs right after school ends for the day or when you get off work?
- Is your social life planned around drinking or using drugs, or possibly both?
- Have you ever encountered legal problems such as being arrested due to drug or alcohol use?
Giving Up After Relapse
It's also not uncommon for a person to relapse during or after receiving help for alcoholism or drug addiction and when this happens, many people just tend to give up thinking treatment is a waste of time. They don't understand that addiction is a disease which causes compulsive drug seeking behavior that can lead to relapse. This isn't a time to give up this is a time to receive extra help, support and treatment. Even though a person may have chosen to drink or use drugs in the beginning, overtime changes take place in the brain that makes it extremely difficult to resist the urge to drink or use drugs once addiction sets in and it doesn't get better overnight.
Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease. Think of addiction in the same way you think about diabetes or asthma, these illnesses don't go away just because you take medication, they have to be managed every day and so does addiction. You also have to receive the right form of treatment for addiction just like any other illness. No two people are exactly alike so their treatment has to be beneficial to their personal recovery in terms of time, addressing personal and mental health issues and even the type of treatment they receive.
Just because an outpatient program works for some people doesn't mean it's the best form of treatment for everyone. Inpatient treatment provides a substance free environment, care and support around the clock which is necessary for people who have had a problem with drugs or alcohol for a long period of time. Research is also beginning to show that the longer a person receives treatment for their addiction the more successful their long term recovery will be.
It's also important to find a treatment program that specializes in your type of addiction that's why Alcoholics Anonymous is so beneficial for people who want to stop drinking. If you have a problem with prescription drugs or other opiates, it's best to find a program that provides treatment for that specific form of addiction whether it's a 12 Step Program, outpatient or residential treatment program. The same holds true no matter what type of addiction a person is suffering from.
It's not uncommon for a person to relapse even if they have received treatment in the past or if they're currently receiving treatment. If you're currently receiving treatment and you relapse your treatment plan may need to be readjusted and you may need additional help and support. People who have successfully managed their daily recovery from alcohol or drug addiction for any length of time and then relapse, means more treatment, help and support is needed at this time. Relapse doesn't mean treatment has failed or that you're a failure but it is a sign that additional treatment and support is necessary so that you can continue to successfully manage your daily recovery, just don't give up.