For the friends and loved ones of an addict in recovery, the possibility of addiction relapses is rightfully scary: relapse may even carry a higher risk of fatality. That initial sense of relief when treatment started, may turn to despair.
For an addict in recovery, a relapse can feel like a huge failure.
But addiction relapses can have a positive outcome. Here are some of the signs of a relapse and how to channel it into a positive.
The adverse outcomes of an addiction relapse are obvious: all the risks of drug or alcohol abuse, back in full force. A relapse can vary in strength and duration. Not everyone will go through one, and they are by no means a necessary part of recovery. Some addicts will experience more than one relapse, of varying severity.
However, instead of despairing at the sight of a relapse, or feeling like a failure if you experience one, recognize that there could be some possible positive outcomes.
Here are some of the possible positive results of addiction relapses:
Benefiting from a perceived failure may be tough, but it can make one stronger. Learning from failure (https://www.edutopia.org/blog/failure-essential-learning-bob-lenz) and learning to handle setbacks, has even been shown to strengthen lifelong learning, leadership skills, and empathy. It mostly has to do with attitude, and the right treatment program may even help an addict in recovery develop the skill set of learning from failure, setting goals, and tackling setbacks.
Attitude is truly everything, and the mindset of a relapse is the key to identifying whether it is a positive or a negative.
Here are some of the signs of a possibly positive relapse:
There are also some bad signs in a relapse. Some of the negative symptoms include:
When a negative relapse attitude is observed, the best course of action may very well be to stage an intervention, and to treat the situation as a dangerous situation, just as one would have before initial treatment. (Not that a “positive relapse” isn’t also dangerous, just that the negative signs should sound the alarm bells).
When the positive signs of a relapse are observed, it’s a good time to reach out to a treatment professional and get on track quickly, to avoid repeated relapse or dangerous consequences.
Addiction is a disease, and recovery is not a “one and done” program, for everyone. Quitting smoking or losing weight or managing another chronic illness like hypertension might be a point of comparison: for some, the process is short and sweet, for others the journey tougher.
The important thing to keep in mind is that recovery is possible.
By supporting an addict even through addiction relapses, for the long-haul, a relapse can just be a bump in the road on the journey to recovery.