Relapse is part and parcel of the recovery process that every recovering addict needs to acknowledge. When entering into drug rehabs in South Africa, it of course isn’t healthy or proactive to expect the course of treatment to fail. But at the same time, nor is it healthy to pretend that relapse isn’t an issue that needs to be taken into account. Like many things, it’s a classic case of ignorance being anything but bliss.
The key to understanding and therefore avoiding relapse lies in acknowledging the various triggers that are likely to lead to failure. Or if not failure, at least additional challenges along the way. It’s very difficult to predict what’s to come when embarking upon a course of addiction treatment. That said, it is usually quite easy to predict some of the triggers most recovering addicts will face along the way. Whether on their own or combine with one another, each of the following triggers has the very real potential to significantly increase the likelihood of relapse.
By taking them into account and working to avoid or at least manage them, any recovering addict can give themselves the best possible shot at success:
1 – Overconfidence
First of all, while it’s of course important to remain confident throughout the treatment process, it’s just as important not to become overconfident. This is because the moment you cross the line into overconfidence tends to be the moment you begin taking things for granted. You make assumptions as to your progress so far, fall into a false sense of security and inherently begin making bad decisions. It’s overconfidence that often leads to the ‘one drink won’t hurt’ mentality, which is where the vast majority of cases of relapse begin.
2 – Self-Pity
Right at the opposite end of the scale, those with absolutely no confidence who fall into something of a spiral of self-pity may find it incredibly difficult to avoid relapse. The reason being that when pity becomes a problem or something of an unbreakable cycle, you may find yourself in a position where relapse actually seems like a preferable option. After all, things couldn’t get much worse…could they? In reality, things could get considerably worse and you need to consistently remind yourself that these bouts of negative emotions are only temporary.
3 – Unrealistic Expectations
One of the most common causes of relapse among addicts across the board is setting out in the first place with unrealistic expectations. It could be that you are expecting to complete your treatment course to quickly, that there will not be unpleasant side effects to deal with along the way or simply that the whole process will be a walk in the park. Researching exactly what the treatment process looks like ahead of time is of the utmost importance, in order to gauge your expectations realistically. The less realistic your expectations, the higher the likelihood of an unpleasant surprise and the possibility of relapse as a result.
4 – Poor Health
Health problems can make it incredibly difficult not to relapse. There are two reasons for this – the first of which being that when feeling physically ill, you may once again turn to drugs or alcohol as a means by which to temporarily feel better. On top of this, there is the way in which poor health also contribute significantly to poor decision-making. While it’s never easy to stay in the best possible shape during an addiction recovery treatment program, it is nonetheless critically important to manage your physical health and wellbeing.
5 – Relationship Issues
Once again, relationship issues are part and parcel of the recovery process that really cannot be avoided. Both now and in the months/years prior to beginning your course of treatment, there is every likelihood you will have strained or even severed some of the most important relationships in your life. When the realisation of this hits home during the recovery process, the associated emotional impact can be devastating. Rather than seeing relationship issues as a consequence of your behaviours, think of them instead as a challenge to work on and an opportunity to rebuild them, stronger than ever before.
6 – Other Substance Abuse
Last but not least, far too many recovering addicts make the mistake of assuming that just as long as they do not go back to their previous substance of choice, other substances are fine. For example, a recovering cocaine addict may switch to alcohol, or a recovering alcoholic to cannabis. As any expert worldwide will tell you, switching to one substance as a means by which to help you stay away from another is almost always a recipe for disaster.