There is something that most people in active addiction experience often referred to as “terminal uniqueness.” What this means is that people struggling with addiction often feel like they are the only ones going through it, or at least the only ones struggling with it on such a severe scale. While this is not true, understandably, people feel that way because addiction has a special way of making an individual feel small. However, with recovery, there comes hope and a chance to expand that world once again. Still, even after all of that work, “terminal uniqueness” can pop back up in the form of the question, “But, what if I relapse?”

The Reality of the State of Relapse Today

Just as people in active addiction or active recovery are not alone, neither are those who struggle with relapse. According to Doctors Guenzel and McChargue in their publication Addiction Relapse Prevention, “One primary concern in addiction treatment is the high rate of relapses within a short period after even the most intensive treatment. Many studies have shown relapse rates of approximately 50% within the first 12 weeks after completion of intensive inpatient programs that often last 4 to 12 weeks or more and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.”

With such high rates of relapse, there must be a reassessment of what recovery centers and addiction specialists offer regarding long-term recovery plans and aftercare. These include plans that focus on relapse prevention, specifically addressing what to do and where to go if a relapse happens.

Is Relapse Always a Part of Recovery?
Is Relapse Always a Part of Recovery?

Relapse doesn't have to be a part of your recovery journey. Learn to prevent relapse and maintain your sobriety. Call Hawaii Island Recovery at (866) 390-5070.

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Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan

Now, creating a relapse prevention plan is relatively simple. What is more complex is being rigorously honest when creating it and putting it into action. Among other aspects, an effective relapse prevention plan will take into account two specific components: Connection and trigger avoidance. 

I Experienced a Relapse: What's Next?

Staying connected in recovery is crucial. This includes staying connected to recovery peers, such as those in a 12-Step recovery community, as well as clinicians and doctors who we see to maintain our mental and emotional stability.

Avoiding triggers is also critical in recovery. Now, this does not mean that all forms of alcohol and substance use can be avoided in recovery. Not only would this be unrealistic and draining but it would once again create that tiny world experienced in active addiction. Moreover, as the “Big Book” of 12-Step recovery jokes, “His only chance for sobriety would be someplace like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there a person might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything!”

Sticking to a Relapse Prevention Plan

On the other hand, it does not matter how well constructed a relapse prevention plan is if it isn’t adhered to. For example, a sober network isn’t effective if, when something comes up that may trigger a relapse, the phone isn’t picked up to talk through it or possibly avoid relapse as quickly as it could occur.

Also, not being honest about having cravings or not feeling like recovery is working is most likely going to happen from time to time. The key is to open up about it, either to a loved one, a recovery peer, or a doctor. Chances are there will be reliability, empathy, and some good advice given. However, it is still necessary to understand that even after all of this is taken into account, relapse can and does still happen. If or when it does, it is important to take the next right step to avoid jeopardizing personal recovery progress. 

What Happens if I Relapse?

The unfortunate reality is that people relapse in recovery; not everyone, of course, but it can happen. No one’s recovery journey is linear, and some people take a sidestep before taking the next right step forward.

If a relapse happens, it is vital to understand that there is no shame in it – period. Remember, relapses are not unique. Many people have relapsed and come out stronger on the other side. The key is being honest with oneself and others and remember that recovery is a daily reprieve from the dangers of addiction. In other words, a relapse today never has to mean a relapse tomorrow. However, that does not mean that no action needs to be taken. Rather, it means that the work must continue, and more intentionally than ever before.

Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan Early
Developing a Relapse Prevention Plan Early

Having a plan to prevent and address the threat of relapse is important from the beginning of one's recovery journey. Learn more by calling (866) 390-5070.

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If I Relapse: Forward Momentum at Hawaii Island Recovery

Remember, when it comes to recovery and relapse, it’s not about how we fall, rather it’s about how we get back up. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we pride ourselves on ensuring that our clients have all of the tools they need to best avoid relapse after recovery.

Alcohol Rehab in Hawaii

With this, we also know that addiction is an insidious disease that can be “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” Thus, we let each client that comes through our door know that we believe in the responsibility that comes with recovery. Our hands are always outstretched, and whenever anyone reaches out for help, we’ll be there.

The truth is that relapse can be an understandably scary event in recovery. You may feel as though everything you worked for has been erased in one sudden moment of relapse. You also may feel like everyone else seems to have their recovery on strong footing except for you. However, this is not true. The statistics of relapse in recovery are prevalent and stark, which is why it is important to find a type of treatment that offers a plan to avoid relapse, as well as what to do if you do relapse. Relapse is sometimes part of the recovery journey, but it doesn’t have to end it. For more information, please call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070.