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Does a Relapse Mean Treatment Didn’t Work?

There is a common misconception that a relapse is part of the process of recovery. While relapses are unfortunately common, they are not necessary on the journey of recovery. Relapse rates mirror the rates of symptom recurrence in other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension—about 40 to 6-% according the National Institute on Drug Abuse. When a relapse occurs, it does not mean that treatment did not work. It simply means treatment may need to be adjusted and we must summon the courage and willingness to try again.

Treating addiction involves changing deeply ingrained behavior and thought patterns. The NIDA explains, “The chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse at some point is not only possible, but likely. Relapse rates (i.e., how often symptoms recur) for people with addiction and other substance use disorders are similar to relapse rates for other well-understood chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, which also have both physiological and behavioral components. Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply imbedded behaviors, and relapse does not mean treatment has failed.  For a person recovering from addiction, lapsing back to drug use indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted or that another treatment should be tried.” For treatment to be effective, we must be honest, open-minded, and willing.  

If we experience a relapse, there is often a reason beyond treatment that caused us to return to drugs and alcohol. We are suggested to do a variety of things daily in order to keep us from returning to thoughts of using drugs or drinking. Often, we may have slipped in one of these areas of our life. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains, “It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe.” For example, we may have felt strong enough in our sobriety that we stopped praying and meditating or helping others or any other activity that we must engage in to keep ourselves happy, joyous, and free in our sobriety. We must thoroughly examine the reasoning and thoughts behind the relapse so we can make a stronger commitment to our recovery reenter treatment armed with the new knowledge we have gained about ourselves and our recovery.

Your life can be one of happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety. You can make the decision to seek help today and embark upon the rewarding journey of recovery. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers a variety of individualized treatment options, as well as Alumni Support dedicated to overcoming relapse. For information about treatment programs offered, please call today: (833) 242-6431