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Does Relapse Mean Failure?
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Does Relapse Mean Failure?

He relapsed, does that mean he failed? HELL YES, over and over the same old crap!!! Won’t he ever GET IT???!!! (Expressed very loudly by a father of an addict: me.)

No, no, no, this isn’t a rant of today. Everything is still good with my son. These are the words that still echo in the walls of our home.

We all evolve and learn in the process of parenting an addict. When I first entered this world, my way of thinking was cut and dried. You either recovered or you didn’t. If you didn’t, you failed.

Well, learning is hard, especially if you happen to be an adult.  And when learning involves first unlearning what you believe to be true, it is particularly difficult.

I struggled a lot. It literally took me years to understand what so many people told me over and over, relapse is a part of recovery. It was hard to accept this idea when I couldn’t relate it to what I’d experienced and believed in my life.

I can remember sending Alex off to his first inpatient rehab. So easy that was. Why didn’t we think of this sooner? Send him away, write a really big check and he comes home cured. Boy was I dumb!

It didn’t take long for the anger to surface. Two weeks, in fact. What the hell, two weeks and it is the same old thing — except my bank account is minus $6000.

Fast forward through a lot of anger, time and way too many more dollars than I want to think about. Relapse is a part of recovery. I don’t know the statistics on how many addicts “get it” the first time, but they aren’t really relevant to our story.

What I have learned is that recovery is a process that involves many things and numerous variables of which relapse is one component. That’s not to mean I accept relapse because it is part of the package it just means I have a better grasp of the process and I am able to live in reality.

Does relapse mean failure?

Failure is the act of not trying. This is how I broke it down in simple terms and concepts for myself. When I was younger I water skied a lot. The first time I ran a slalom course I fell, if I remember right it was on the first ball. When I tried to trick ski I fell on my first 360.

Failure wasn’t me falling. Failure would have been if I climbed into the boat and never skied again. Failure isn’t the result of not succeeding. Failure is the result of not trying or giving up.

No matter how many times it takes.

To learn more, read 5 Things You Need to Know About Relapse.

(proof Darlene and I were young once upon a time)

Posted by Ron Grover  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family members, Forgiveness, parenting, Recovery & Relapse, relapse, Substance Abuse, Treatment, Uncategorized  /  Comments: more



5 Things You Need to Know About Relapse
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

People in recovery and their families are often terrified of relapse. Understanding the following 5 points may help.

1. Relapse is common. Although relapses are not inevitable, they are common. Many people have one or more relapses before achieving long-lasting sobriety or abstinence. This does not mean the end of efforts toward abstinence and recovery. The person needs to get back into treatment and the family needs to continue attending a support group, professional counseling, or both.

2. Work together to prevent relapse. People in recovery may have frequent urges to drink or use drugs, and feel guilty about it, even though these urges are a normal part of recovery. It’s important to work together to anticipate high-risk situations (such as a party where alcohol will be served) and plan ways to prevent them.

3. Relapse can happen during good times, too. Sometimes relapse occurs when the person is doing well with their recovery. He or she feels healthy, confident, and/or “cured” and believes that he or she is ready to go back to casual, regular or “controlled” use of drugs or alcohol. The person may remember the honeymoon period of their use (even though it may have been long ago) — where his or her use didn’t cause problems — and may want to return to that place. But this is often impossible since addiction changes the physical makeup of the brain and the person is recovery is no longer able to use drugs or alcohol in a controlled fashion.

4. If relapse occurs. Medical professionals, particularly those who specialize in substance use disorders, are an extremely important asset during a time of relapse. They can help the person learn techniques for containing feelings, focusing on the present, and making use of support from others. Relying on group support from Twelve Step programs, engaging in prayer or meditation, and finding other ways to stay on an even keel can also be extremely helpful.

5. Learn from relapse. Experts have found that a relapse can serve as an important opportunity for the recovering person and other family members to identify what triggered the relapse in the first place — and find ways to avoid it in the future.

Posted by Intervene Staff  /  Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Drugs, Family Therapy, getting help, parenting, Recovery, Recovery & Relapse, relapse, Substance Abuse, Twelve Step, Uncategorized  /  Comments: more



Part II: An Overview of Relapse
Thursday, November 17th, 2011

=An Overview of Relapse

This is a guest blog post by Michael V. Pantalon, PhD, Yale Psychologist, Addiction & Motivation Expert, Speaker, Coach and author of INSTANT INFLUENCE: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything—Fast! (Little, Brown & Co., May, 2011).

Many people who enter into recovery (i.e., abstinence from their drug of abuse/dependence & engaged in treatment) will relapse at one point or another.  Though this seems like bad news, the flip side is that relapse can be a manageable part of recovery – some have even said that it has helped them solidify what they need to do in order for it to never happen again.  How did these people benefit from the pain of relapse?  What kernels of wisdom and insight might they have gleaned from it?  And how did their family and significant others help them through that process?

Well, while everyone’s relapse is different to some extent, there are some fairly predictable dynamics that family members should be aware of if they would like to help steer the affected individual through it as easily as possible and in a way that important lessons can be learned and applied in the future.

This is the opposite of the “One-drink-One-drunk” adage that says that the moment an alcoholic who has been in recovery for a period of time (even a long period of time, say 15 years) has a single drink or even sip, they return immediately back to the drunk they were 15 years ago.

While relapses can often set in motion a series of events both environmentally and biochemically that can eventually lead someone back to their worst point or lower, there is no scientific evidence that it happens immediately or that it is inevitable.  In fact, the scientific literature more clearly states that the manner in which the affected person, as well as significant other around him, HANDLES the relapse is much more predictive of how things will go in the future.

So, it’s not simply the relapse that causes problems, but how it’s handled.  That said, the reverse is also true (and much more positive and hopeful)…”The better the affected person and his significant others handle the relapse, the better he will do in the future (e.g., the shorter the relapse, the quicker the time back to treatment).”

How have you and your family members handled relapse in the past?  Did it work?  Please share with us in the comments section.

Related Links:
Part I: Dealing With Your Teen’s Relapse from Drug and Alcohol Addiction
My Own Daughter’s Relapse
Addiction is a Chronic Medical Disease

Posted by Michael Pantalon, PhD  /  Filed under Acceptance, Addiction, Dealing with an Addicted Child, Family members, Recovery, Recovery & Relapse, relapse  /  Comments: more






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