One of our greatest fears in sobriety is going back to the chaos and pain of life in active addiction. We may be aware of the potential to achieve a happy, joyous, and free life in sobriety, but there are moments when we want the temporary relief provided by drugs and alcohol. There is no denying that there is an uncomfortably high rate of relapse. However, there are warning signs to look out for. Relapse rarely occurs as a surprise. Usually we find ourselves drifting away from our recovery program, falsely believing that we are no longer at risk of falling back into addiction. This is especially true in early sobriety because the brain is still in the process of healing. According to a 2012 article by Cassie Rodenberg in Scientific American, “over time the brain can return to ‘normal’—regain healthy levels of neurotransmitters and their transporter bindings—which makes addicts less likely to relapse. However, even with renewed neurotransmitter function, addicts have to constantly manage their disease.” This management described necessitates having a routine around our sobriety. We find a way to incorporate recovery into our lives so that we always have a defense again the first drink or drug. When we begin to let up on our program, we are at risk of falling into the same patterns of thought and behavior that controlled our lives in addiction. We must maintain an awareness of ourselves because our brains can create “mental twists” that can potentially convince us to pick up another drink or drug. 12-Step fellowships believe that sobriety is contingent upon the maintenance of spiritual fitness. In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, we are warned that “it is easy to let up on a spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels.” This, however, is applicable to any recovery program. The moment that we start to believe that we are safe from relapse and can begin to stray away from our program is usually when we are at the greatest risk of relapse. Sometimes, even if we haven’t made the decision to use again, we trick ourselves into entering situations where relapse is a possibility. We must stay vigilant and recognize the alcohol and drugs are subtle foes. An awareness of our behaviors and actions, as well as our involvement with our recovery program, are necessities if we weigh to achieve permanent sobriety.
Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of your story. Oceanfront Recovery, a treatment center in Laguna Beach, knows from experience that it is possible to stop “chronic relapse” and offer transitional treatment dedicated to breaking the cycle of addiction. For more information about treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777