Relapse is common. A popular estimate puts relapse rates anywhere between between 40 and 60 percent in the first year, with most of those happening early. The rate differs depending on what drugs you used and for how long. Although a relapse can be discouraging–and dangerous–it does not mean failure. Many people eventually succeed after relapsing, sometimes repeatedly. Still, relapse is a serious thing. Most overdoses happen after a relapse and the discouragement of a relapse can make it hard to get sober again. If you do relapse, it’s important to quit again as soon as possible. Does that mean you should go back into treatment?
Whether you should go back into treatment depends mainly on whether you had a slip or a full relapse. A slip might mean using once or twice, then feeling bad about it and quitting again. A relapse is when you start using, keep using, and slide back into old habits. A slip probably doesn’t require going back into treatment. In fact, you only know it’s a slip because you were able to quit again.
One caveat is that sometimes what seems like a slip is really just the first step. Sometimes people slip, are able to quit again, then take that as proof that they can now use in moderation. Once you’ve developed an addiction, the belief you can start using again in moderation is dangerous. What typically ends up happening is increasingly frequent moderate use that gradually becomes less moderate. If you do slip, take it seriously. Figure out what went wrong, talk to your group or your therapist about it, and reaffirm your commitment to staying sober.
However, relapse may require going back into treatment. It really depends on how bad it is and how long it lasts. If you get to a place where you don’t even want to get sober, you might need to go back into treatment. Another factor is whether your relapse lasts long enough to build a tolerance. At that point, you have to consider whether you need a medical detox to quit safely. People sometimes find that detoxing after a relapse is worse than the first time. If you have started to build a tolerance during your relapse, you might want to at least consider detoxing in a facility.
Even after a full relapse, you may not have to go back into treatment. A relapse is a setback, but it doesn’t erase everything you’ve accomplished. You may have more assets to recover from a relapse than you did when you first tried to get sober. You may have support in the form of 12-step meetings, a sponsor, a therapist, or family members who have come back into your life. It may be hard to ask these people for help if you feel guilty about a relapse. Many people are afraid to go back to meetings for fear of judgment, but going back is what meetings are for.
Also, you have insight and skills you didn’t have the first time you got sober. If you’ve gone through treatment and therapy, you probably learned a lot about yourself. You also learned a lot about how to control your thinking, emotions, and behavior. Just because you relapsed doesn’t mean all that work goes to waste. As with any new skill, mastery takes time. Sometimes life’s challenges are too much for your current skill level, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have skills. A relapse can be an opportunity to review what you’ve learned and see what your relapse can teach you.
If you really want to get sober again, and you already have some support in place, going back into treatment might not be necessary. Of course, if you can’t get sober again, even with the help of your network, going back into treatment is usually the best option. At The Dawn, we offer a relapse assurance guarantee. If you do have a relapse, you can return to The Dawn for 30 days, completely free of charge. During this month long program, we will help you get sober and help you figure what went wrong so you’ll be better prepared moving forward.
Taking advantage of this guarantee has several benefits. First, it costs you nothing but the plane ticket. Second, you will already be familiar with the staff and some of the residents. This is an important point, as they will also be familiar with you and your situation. You won’t have to waste time getting to know a new therapist and doctor. On a personal level, you can pretty much pick up where you left off. Your team will already know your strengths and weaknesses and can offer more insight into what might have gone wrong.
When someone relapses, she often only needs a reminder of what she already knows. It takes a while for new behaviors and ways of thinking to become second nature, so it’s easy to let them slide at first. A refresher course can help consolidate what you’ve already learned and keep it fresh in your mind going forward. After consulting with your team, you might decide to make some other adjustments as well. Perhaps you went back to your old life too quickly, and a sober living arrangement might have smoothed the transition. Perhaps there’s a trigger in your life that you hadn’t adequately planned for.
There’s no shame in relapse. It happens all the time. The important thing to remember is that relapse doesn’t mean failure. It’s only a chance to learn. If you’re struggling with addiction or mental illness, The Dawn Medical Rehab and Wellness center can help. We are one of Thailand’s most respected addiction treatment and wellness centers. We use cutting-edge treatment modalities to provide personalized care to treat addiction, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, PTSD, and executive burnout. See our contact page to reach us by phone or email.