Is Relapse a Part of Recovery?
Drug Addiction is a very difficult demon to tame. There are many different reasons a person gets addicted to drugs. No one ever sets out with the goal of becoming an addict. Most of the time, people innocently try a drug, only to find out that they’ve opened Pandora’s Box which can’t be easily closed. Recovery is a long sought-after condition that most addicts struggle to find. There are a lot of different ways a person can find recovery and it’s not a process that happens overnight. But the question remains:
“Does relapse have to be part of recovery?”
Drug addiction is insidious because it kind of sneaks up on people. Most anybody’s story about trying drugs for the first time is the same. They either started out with smoking a joint or having a drink here and there. When that didn’t “do the trick” anymore they moved on to harder and stronger substances. Others tell a different story of having an injury, were placed on narcotic pain killers and loved how they made them feel. A boost of energy, complete euphoria and all of their insecurities were thrown out the window; they thought they had found the panacea for all that ails them, in addition to comforting them from the pain of the original injury. After the doctors cut off the supply of drugs because they were no longer medically necessary, all bets were off. In comes the heroin and in comes the pill dealer to allow them to continue to numb out and most importantly, not get sick.
No matter which story is told, the results are always the same. Before they knew it, they were in full-blown addiction. Pawning everything they could find, stealing money from their parents and running whatever hustle they could, just to make sure they had their next fix so they could stay numb and not go through withdrawal. For the lucky few, life will get so terrible and unmanageable that they will do whatever they can to get clean and get off drugs. While trying to get clean, the addict gets introduced to a few different ways of kicking drugs for good and finding one that works can be difficult.
It’s commonly heard in “traditional” treatment centers that “relapse is a part of recovery.” Basically, this is stating that in “traditional” treatment, they almost expect than an addict will fail a multitude of times before finally getting clean. This is a pretty dismal forecast for anyone trying to get sober and take on a new lifestyle. Professionals in the field will tell you, right to your face:
“So while trying to get clean, you’re probably going to use drugs again.”
While being indoctrinated into a recovery process, having it admitted to you that it probably won’t work, doesn’t put too much faith in that type of treatment. What this also does is give an addict a really good excuse as to why they screwed up again.
“I’m sorry mom, I tried, but relapse is a part of recovery!”
All this does is continue the cycle of the addict using drugs, getting clean, not handling what they need to handle to stay clean, relapsing, getting clean again, etc. This goes around and around, going nowhere fast. In the “traditional” recovery process, the addict is given excuses, such as above, for why treatment doesn’t always work. And no responsibility is placed on the addict themselves. Responsibility is placed on other intangible things like a “disease” or in other ways the blame is laid elsewhere.
In reality, the responsibility lies directly with the addict. It lies with their choices, their moral and ethical codes, actually handling the real underlying causes to their drug use and their own desire to change their lives. But the addict will never know this, if not given the right treatment. Otherwise, they try to blame factors outside of their control and wind up getting highly frustrated, they start to feel powerless, become overwhelmed and then just give up and relapse. And it’s the same thing over and over again.
This doesn’t have to be the scene for most addicts and there are other ways of getting clean rather than the “traditional” way of doing it. The right help is out there. The right help will address an addict’s physical addiction to drugs, make them responsible for their condition and, better yet, help them to handle the true, root causes of their addiction. Without the right help for the addict, they will just endlessly run in a hamster wheel, trying to get clean while never moving forward.