Why Do I Keep Relapsing?
A Personal Story of Relapse and Recovery
The addiction recovery process is not always easy or fun. In my experience with drug addiction, relapse has unfortunately been a big part of it. I’ve relapsed multiple times, and each time it happens, I feel like a failure. I’ve been to multiple recovery centers, but when I went to Icarus in New Mexico, I was finally able to attain long-term recovery, and have not relapsed in over a year.
Drug abuse affects everybody differently, and we are all at different points in our lives. There are so many factors at play when it comes to addiction relapse. Things happen in our personal and professional lives that can make us slip up. Sometimes it happens randomly, and there is no rhyme or reason for it. A relapse can happen anywhere, at any time.
Keep reading to learn my own personal answer to why do I keep relapsing, and how Icarus was able to help me when me and my family both had all but given up hope.
Getting an Early Start at the School of Hard Knocks
I began abusing drugs and alcohol when I was a teenager, so addiction has always been a big part of my life. Drug or alcohol addiction can affect anybody, regardless of your upbringing or personality. I’ve known people who had terrible upbringings who never used drugs, and I’ve known people with ‘perfect’ upbringings who fall victim to alcohol or drug addiction.
The recovery journey looks different for everyone. Recovery has to be a priority in your life if you wish to remain sober. Finding the right treatment center plays a big role as well. If you are lucky enough to find a treatment center like Icarus in New Mexico, you will be off to a good start.
Dealing With Lifelong Drug Abuse
I took my first drink when I was around fourteen years old. I drank regularly all through high school, all the while experimenting with anything else I could get my hands on. My marijuana use eventually led to cocaine, prescription drugs, and meth. If I couldn’t get my hands on alcohol or drugs, I would act erratically and not be able to have any peace of mind until I got high and/or drunk.
My parents forced me into a treatment program when I was sixteen. I didn’t want to get clean, so it didn’t work out at all. I was sober for as long as I was there, but it only lasted a couple of days after I got out of rehab. My drug use returned to normal, and it was years before I gave recovery another chance.
How Often Do People Relapse?
A relapse occurs randomly in some cases and is planned in others. It’s different for every person. For recovering addicts, there is no manual or statistics that tell the whole story of how often people relapse. Even with the right amount of relapse prevention planning, it can happen suddenly. A lot of addicts deal with boredom when they first get clean. Drugs and alcohol provide a certain level of entertainment, and if you don’t have anything to fill that void when you get clean, it can be easy to relapse.
Mental health issues have a lot to do with why people relapse as well. If your mental health is suffering in any way, it can lead to erratic decision-making. It can be overwhelming to deal with these kinds of issues, and many people with mental health issues often give in to a relapse. Psychological issues are often one of the main reasons people give up on their sobriety.
Why Do I Keep Relapsing?
I found myself asking this question more times than I could count. Addiction recovery for me has always been a back-and-forth kind of thing. I would get clean for several months, and then slip up and fall back into my old ways. All in all, I’ve probably relapsed a dozen times. My substance abuse has always been right under the surface, and even if I’m doing good in my recovery I still feel the urge to use.
When you engage in drug or alcohol use, you can find every excuse possible to keep relapsing. There were times when I would convince myself that I could just get high or drunk one time, and then go right back to my sobriety. It never worked out that way. Once I get back into my old habits, they come back with full force.
One of the most important things you will learn in addiction treatment is how to find ways to cope that go beyond drugs or alcohol. If you are someone who gets triggered easily and feels the urge to constantly get high or drunk, you need a certain set of tools at your disposal in order to combat those urges. Meditation has been big for me, as it gives me the time and space to shut my brain off. I’ve learned that it helps a lot with my decision-making.
Many addicts experience underlying mental health issues, so maintaining sobriety is nearly impossible to do alone. When you struggle with mental illness, you need to develop a certain set of coping skills. You won’t always have someone to call or have someone to talk you down.
It’s in these moments when people are alone that they often slip up and lose the path on their recovery journey. At least it was for me. I know when I’m isolated and making decisions without consulting a sober support of some kind, the battle is already being lost and I am on the way to alcohol or drug relapse already.
The Addiction Recovery Process and My Experience
My substance abuse lasted years and required many attempts at sobriety. I’ve gotten very used to the process of addiction recovery and the tools needed because I’ve had to go through it over and over. Withdrawal symptoms, detox, rehab, support groups, etc. There are plenty of times that I didn’t want it bad enough, and when that happened it was followed by a relapse very soon after I got clean.
Even during the times I really thought I wanted to achieve sobriety, I still slipped up easily. Some people have less self-control than others, and I have definitely been one of these people. Being newly sober is a very tough experience. It might sound cliche, but taking it one day at a time is really the only way to make it work. When you are newly sober, it’s easy to overthink everything and let the whole process become overwhelming.
Maintain Sobriety Through Proper Self Care
Taking care of yourself is key to maintaining sobriety. Substance use creeps up on you, and if you aren’t on top of your sobriety, it can spring up out of nowhere. It’s important to focus on your mental and physical health when you are in recovery. When you are eating right, sleeping normally, and keeping in shape, it has a positive effect on your mental health.
You need to have a good head on your shoulders to stay sober. Having a positive attitude is the key to preventing relapse. I notice that if I stray from my routine, it leads me to think more negatively. When I fall into negative thinking, it can be easy for me to talk myself into drinking or using drugs. You can’t avoid relapse if your mind isn’t right.
Living A Sober Lifestyle At Last
When you become sober, it’s a completely life changing event. If you have the right recovery plan in place and surround yourself with a good support system, you will be ahead of the curve. The recovery community that I am a part of now is incredible. I’ve met some of the most compassionate, caring people through recovery. Being in recovery means being selfless.
I’m always looking for an opportunity to pick somebody up if they are having a bad day. If I’m having a bad day, and I feel the urge to slip up, I have people that I can contact who will tell me what I need to hear. My family has been incredibly supportive as well. I have family members who drink, but they make it a point to not do it in front of me, which is something I’m very appreciative of.
Challenges Will Occur
When you live a sober lifestyle, there are times when you will be challenged. Being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve been in vulnerable situations where I almost relapsed and used heroin, but because of what I’ve learned through recovery, I was able to avoid it. This lets me know that I have the power to avoid slipping up. I might have moments of weakness, but it doesn’t mean I have to throw it all away when that happens.
I am aware that at any point, I can relapse. It’s happened many times, but I also am aware that I’ve had occasions where I felt like using but then didn’t. It’s also very important to know that if you do relapse, it doesn’t mean you’ve thrown it all away. I’ve met people who relapsed years into recovery and then did the right thing by going back into treatment.
Finding Strength Through Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment can take many forms. What works for one person might not work for everybody. The addiction recovery process also might look different depending on your level of addiction and the issues that you struggle with personally. For me, because I’ve used drugs and alcohol my entire life, sometimes it’s hard for me to accept that I can’t handle it.
There have been many times when I’ve been out and thought that I could handle one or two drinks. I don’t have to get wasted drunk. I can just have one or two and then go home. This has never worked out for me. Because I have the disease of addiction, if I have one drink, it means that I cannot stop. I will drink until complete intoxication. It’s happened every single time I thought I could have ‘just one drink’.
Finding A Sober Companion
Sobriety can be infectious if you are around the right people. I used to think that everyone who was sober must be super boring. How can you have fun without drinking or using drugs? This is the great trick that addiction plays on people. I’ve met so many fun, lively individuals who don’t need substances to have a good time. It made me realize that the people I used to associate with were exhausting to be around.
If you can’t have fun without being high or drunk, then you probably have something going on that needs some looking into. I was constantly trying to cover up my issues with drugs and alcohol, so I constantly needed to be intoxicated. This has never made my problems go away. It just made me put these problems off longer and make them even more complicated.
Overcoming Addiction And Relapse
When you get clean, it’s hard to say that you will never use drugs or alcohol again. Anybody who has been through the recovery process knows that it’s impossible to make a declaration like that. I don’t know what the future holds for me.
I never say that I will never use drugs or alcohol again, because I have the disease. Even if I’m doing well, I know that I’m not above relapsing.
Overcoming addiction requires paying attention or constant vigilance as they say in ‘the rooms.’ When you’re having a bad day, pay attention to why that might be. Go to a meeting and be honest. Talk it out with others. It’s the best weapon at your disposal.
Reach Out to Icarus and Give Yourself a Fighting Chance
Long-term sobriety can only be achieved when you make recovery the most important aspect of your life. I continue to go to meetings, and I continue to live a healthy lifestyle so that there is a good amount of distance between me and my addiction. I am still an addict, but I am not an active addict, and my life is very different and wonderful in ways I could never have even predicted before getting clean.
If you’d like a different, personal approach to getting clean, even if you’ve relapsed once or twice (or many times like me) why not reach out to Icarus and see about getting help? I know it made a huge impact on my life, and I am willing to bet it will for you too!