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What is Relapse? How It Affects Recovery

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relapse_recovery300x400-865656-editedFor those recovering from addiction, "relapse" has been a shameful event for years and years.

Friends and family would scorn the fallen addict, self help organizations would make the person throw away their “clean time” and get a beginner's chip while having to attend 90 AA meetings in 90 days.

We want to say here and now that there is better alternative.

Relapse during recovery meant jobs would be lost and relationships would end, among other hardships.

Instead of facing all this humiliation, many in addiction recovery would return to the preferred substance, as this seemed like a better option.

"Slip" Not Relapse During Addiction Recovery

Instead of having a relapse, we should call it a “slip.”

As we live our life, it is natural to make mistakes. It is how human beings learn. It took a lot of falling before we learned to walk or ride a bike.

Relapse is often a natural part of addiction recovery.

There are other areas in life where we fall down (what we call "limiting behaviors") as well: binging on sweets, not following through on our personal commitments like exercising, or not paying a bill on time. But when we yell at someone or spank the dog, this limits our growth and learning potential as well.

If we are able to view all of this - including relapse during recovery - as lapses of judgment, and learn from them, it can propel us to greater depths of healing and personal fulfillment.

Let's say goodbye to 'relapse' for good - it's a slip, and it's a natural part of recovery. Learn from it.

How You Are With Yourself as You Face Your Issue is the Issue

Every day, we are given opportunities for growth and learning.

This especially applies to relapse.

We like to say, "how you are with yourself as you face your issue is the issue."

Meaning, we can beat ourselves up, feel humiliated, or actually take this episode as an opportunity to look at the triggers and grow from it. We counsel and teach our recovering participants to address the inner aspect that propelled them to use, create a better behavioral plan of action, set up a better support system, and look at the underlying cause or causes that led to the act.

"To Err is Human, to Forgive Divine”

We don’t view slips as being bad or wrong, but opportunities for further growth and development. It’s an invitation to take a deeper cut. In this way we don’t need to be guilted or shamed or go back to square one, but we do need to push on from where we left off.

Changing an addictive habit normally takes a good amount of time for the old pattern to fade and for the new habit to become firmly locked into place like a steel gate.

This new pattern doesn’t come easy and one should anticipate some bumps in the road. The real challenge is to turn to your tools when a relapse does occur.

Relapses during recovery then become bumps that are small insignificant annoyances. But if these small bumps are not handled at the onset appropriately and directly, they can turn into flames!

It is easy to be spiritual on the mountaintop but bringing the mountaintop into the valley is the real opportunity.

It is easy to be spiritual and successful at an addiction treatment center.

And why shouldn’t it be?

You're in a residential treatment setting, you get support, you're away from the addictive substance, and you're constantly working on yourself.

Upon discharge, the challenge and opportunity is to bring this healing environment with you as you face your day-to-day life.

The Keys to Managing Relapse During Recovery

The keys to continued recovery after a relapse - whoops, a slip - include:

In doing so, the success rate drastically increases for addiction recovery.

About The Clearing

The Clearing is a residential treatment center located on beautiful San Juan Island, Washington. We created The Clearing in response to the pervasiveness of treatment centers that focus more on luxury than modern, evidence-based therapy.

Our approach is based on healing the underlying core issues that cause addiction. If you'd like to learn more, contact us, or download our free eBook:

Download eBook:

Healing Underlying Core Issues

  Download eBook:  Healing Underlying Core Issues
Gregg Makuch

This post was written by Gregg Makuch

Gregg helps get the word out about The Clearing. When he’s not riding his bike and enjoying the beauty of the San Juan Islands, Gregg loves to cook and spend time with his family.

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