People in recovery may relapse. This does not mean they have failed. Understanding the following 5 points may help.
1. Relapse is common - Many people have one or more relapses before achieving long-lasting sobriety or abstinence. This does not mean that recovery efforts have to end. The person needs to get back into treatment and the family needs to continue attending a support group, professional counseling, or both.
2. Work together to prevent relapse - People in recovery may have frequent urges to use drugs, and feel guilty about it, even though these urges are a normal part of recovery. It’s important to work together to anticipate high-risk situations and plan ways to prevent them.
3. Relapse can happen during good times, too - Sometimes relapse occurs when a person is doing well with their recovery. He or she feels healthy, confident, and/or "cured” and believes that he or she is ready to go back to casual, regular or "controlled" use of the drug. But this is no longer possible since addiction changes the physical makeup of the brain and the use of drugs in a controlled fashion is no longer possible.
4. If relapse occurs - Medical professionals, particularly those who specialize in substance use disorders, are an extremely important asset during a time of relapse. They can help a person in recovery learn techniques for containing feelings, focusing on the present, and making use of support from others. Relying on group support from Twelve Step programs, engaging in prayer or meditation, and finding other ways to stay on an even keel can also be extremely helpful.
5. Learn from relapse - Experts have found that a relapse can serve as an important tool for the recovering person and other family members to identify what triggered the relapse in the first place — and find ways to avoid it in the future.
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