The dangers of relapse are apparent to nearly everyone in the recovery community. We have gone through the pain of detox, taken steps forward in our lives and recovery, and experienced the joys of sobriety. To lose our newfound sobriety and enter back into the state of desperation and chaos of addiction is a fear that crosses the mind of everyone in the recovery community. The National Institute on Drug abuse places the relapse rate between 40 and 60 percent. Because of these high rates of relapse, some members of the recovery community believe that it is part of the process of achieving sobriety. The truth, however, is that relapse does not have to be. Through 12-Step recovery, we develop the tools and coping skills necessary to maintain our newfound sobriety and navigate early recovery. However, at this stage, our brains are still not adjusted back to the “normalcy” of those who do not suffer from the disease of addiction. 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.” One of the best way to manage our addictive impulses in early sobriety, we have found, is through dedication to the 12-Step program of recovery. We have found that our sobriety is contingent upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition, and are warned in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that “it is easy to let up on a spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels”. In the rooms of 12-Step recovery meetings, there is a concept many people refer to as “working the steps backward”. They stop incorporating a program of recovery into their day-to-day lives until they no longer have any defense against the first drink. This does not only affect those in early recovery, but even men and women with a significant amount of time sober can put themselves in danger of relapse by letting up on necessary components of their recovery program. There is a story in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous of an exceptional businessman who gave up alcohol in order to achieve his life’s ambition. The man stayed sober for twenty-five years before falling victim to the belief that “his long period of sobriety and self-discipline has qualified him to drink as other men. Within two months he was hospitalized for his drinking, and within four years he had died. Many of us are aware of the dangers of relapse and feel that we will do anything to avoid the feelings associated with starting over in our recovery. Relapse can happen, however, and there is no reason to feel ashamed because of it. We must remember that we suffer from the disease of addiction and alcoholism, and can always put ourselves back on the path toward sobriety. We have to take an honest look at ourselves what more we can do for our recovery. Drugs and alcohol are subtle foes– it is only through adhering to our chosen program of recovery that we keep ourselves safe from the painful experience of relapse and continue on our journey toward health and happiness in sobriety.
You can make the choice to change the story of your life. Oceanfront Recovery is a treatment center with a professional and compassionate staff of detoxification specialists dedicated to making the process as comfortable as possible. For more information about Drug and Alcohol Detox Programs or other treatment options, please call: (877) 279-1777