“No one is immune from relapse”
Many clients who come to Hope have had long periods of recovery from their addiction. It is not unusual to experience Relapse in recovery due to stress and illness. In fact, the founder of Hope Simon Mott talks openly about being in a similar position a few times. A consequence from Simon’s addiction is Hep C which requires antiviral treatment and involves medication for side effects like insomnia, depression and anxiety etc This can start the cycle of drug dependence all over again and is very challenging to manage.
Being operated on surgically in recovery requires strong medications and pain killers, this can also trigger addictive pathways in the brain. So recovery and life has risks and some people require re-treatment to stay healthy.
Many people with addiction issues are at risk when they visit their Doctor. This is because many Doctors will reach for their prescription pad for all solutions. Doctors rarely have the time or counselling skills to help patients cope with issues in alternative ways. However more and more in the UK Doctors surgeries to have CBT qualified staff to try a healthy sustainable approach to solving stress, anxiety and depression as medication is only a temporary fix.
“There is no shame in relapse, the shame is not getting help”
Simon’s own journey in recovery includes a few Rehab admissions and disappointing relapses, leading back into the cycle of addiction again and again. Simon says “Determination and persistence to regain recovery is important, even in the face of judgement”
Environmental triggers, broken relationships, intensive stress and even trauma from bullying at home or in the workplace can challenge even the strongest of recovery programs. At Hope we have treated many doctors and therapists working in the field of addiction, one of the most stressful jobs believe it or not. Yes, it is rewarding and gratifying at times but helping addicts over come their addiction can be frustrating and emotionally exhausting, remember it is a life threatening disease.
Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission’ – Remission and relapse is a typical symptom of a chronic condition.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)…explanation
Remission: A state of wellness where there is an abatement of signs and symptoms that characterize active addiction. Many individuals in a state remission state remain actively engaged in the process of recovery. Reduction in signs or symptoms constitutes improvement in a disease state, but remission involves a return to a level of functioning that is free of active symptoms and/or is marked by stability in the chronic signs and symptoms that characterize active addiction.
Relapse: A process in which an individual who has established abstinence or sobriety experiences recurrence of signs and symptoms of active addiction, often including resumption of the pathological pursuit of reward and/or relief through the use of substances and other behaviors. When in relapse, there is often disengagement from recovery activities. Relapse can be triggered by exposure to rewarding substances and behaviors, by exposure to environmental cues to use, and by exposure to emotional stressors that trigger heightened activity in brain stress circuits. The event of using or acting out is the latter part of the process, which can be prevented by early intervention.
Long term recovering addicts and alcoholics are increasing in numbers these day. Since the expansion or explosion of rehabs and availability of treatment the growth of AA and NA and therefore the recovering community is 10 fold since the 70 ‘s This means there are many more long term recovering people with 10 years plus. Even with years of solid recovery we are still not immune from relapse, we are not cured. The disease is progressive even when clean and sober. Dry drunk syndrome and cross addictions can keep the pathways very much active and even developing, so should a recovering have the bright idea to use again it is usually a disaster and can be harder to get back into recovery.
Specialist Relapser’s intensive Program at hope
This program is designed for chronic replapsers, serial relapsers, slippers, and anyone else struggling to remain free of alcohol and other drugs.
Recently an eight-year study of nearly 1200 addicts, were able to follow up on over 94% of the study participants, and they found that extended abstinence really does predict long term recovery. Some takeaways from this research are:
- About a third of people who are abstinent less than a year will remain abstinent.
- For those who achieve a year of sobriety, less than half will relapse.
- If you can make it to 5 years of sobriety, your chance of relapse is less than 15 percent.
We regularly receive clients at Hope with a history of long-term recovery – some have even managed to remain free from alcohol or drugs for 20+ years before picking up again. We also sometimes work with those who relapsed even though they were working in the addiction recovery field.
Previous experience with recovery is an asset when trying to overcome an addiction, but there can also be a sense that the ‘magic is missing’ if we don’t approach things the right way. This is why it is so important to choose a rehab capable of catering to the specific needs of those who relapse – i.e. the type of program we offer at Hope Rehab Thailand.
Chronic Relapse as a ‘Normal Part of Recovery’
They do say that relapse is a ‘normal part of recovery’. Unfortunately, there is a danger we could use this valid observation to justify multiple relapses (e.g. “Of course I’m back using heroin again, it’s part of the process”), but the purpose of saying this is to give us hope of another chance even after we have returned to our old life.
A relapse certainly doesn’t need to be the end of the world so long as we are able to return from it. In fact, many of us become convinced this experience actually strengthened our recovery by making us feel more grateful and committed.
Relapse is almost always due to a weak recovery beforehand.
Most of us who have returned to alcohol or drugs after a long period of sobriety will usually have a good excuse for why it happened such as:
Hope Rehab Specialist Relapse Treatment
• Loss of a job
• Loss of a relationship
• Injury, illness, or trauma
• Prescribed medications (e.g. we may suffer a serious injury and need to take strong opiates which we then begin to abuse)
• Success and the feeling we deserve a reward
• Falling in with the wrong crowd
When we decide to return to recovery, we can be tempted to believe it is just a case of picking up where we left off. The problem with this way of thinking is that if our sobriety had been solid enough beforehand, we would not have relapsed no matter what had happened to us. This may sound harsh, but if you can’t acknowledge there was something missing from your previous attempt at recovery, there is a strong likelihood you will repeat the same mistakes.
One of the main goals of a relapse treatment program is to discover what went wrong. You will then need to work on changing unhelpful thinking patterns, self-destructive behaviors, as well as developing new strategies for dealing with life.
The Importance of Beginner’s Mind When Returning from Relapse
If you have already managed a long time in recovery, it can lead to a type of ‘been there, done that’ mentality – and this way of thinking can remain even after you relapse. Experience tells us that humility, openness, and the willingness to learn are crucial for those of us trying to break free of addiction. In fact, it is the lack of these attributes that leads to the sense that the ‘magic is missing’ from recovery.
There is a Zen story about an academic who goes to visit a highly respected monk. This visitor asks the holy man to speak on the subject of enlightenment, but before the monk even opens his mouth, the academic starts lecturing about his own learned opinions on waking up.
The Zen monk asks for tea to be brought for his guest which he then pours into a cup. Even after the tea has reached the brim of the cup, the monk keeps on pouring. The academic shouts to warn the monk that the tea is overflowing, but the holy man just keeps on pouring seemingly oblivious to the mess he was creating. Eventually he turns to the academic and says, “just like this cup, your mind is so full it will not be possible to teach you anything”.
If your mind is too full of your ideas and opinions about recovery when you arrive in rehab, it is going to be difficult for you to gain much from the experience. It is therefore crucial that you develop a beginner’s mind – this means temporarily putting aside everything you know, so you are able to learn something new.
“Careful how you judge others. At some point you have been, or will be all of them.”
Relapse in Recovery booklet by NA download
Chapter 7 Blue book information on Relapse
Find Out More about the Hope Relapse Treatment Program
If you feel ready to start again in recovery, please contact the team here at Hope Rehab Thailand to find out how we can help.