Relapse Excuses are Always Weak
Those individuals who relapse after a period in recovery will always have an excuse.
Such explanations never justify their return to alcohol or drug abuse. There can be no adequate justification. Usually the individual will recognize themselves that their excuses sound weak. They may have acted at a time when they were not thinking clearly. Those who are honest will admit that they regret the decision, but they may feel unable to summon the motivation to return to sobriety.
The Dangers of Relapse
There can never be any justifiable reason for why a person returns to alcohol or drug abuse. Recovery is a precious gift, and it should never be squandered. There is no guarantee that the individual will ever get another chance to escape their addiction. This means that a relapse can be a death sentence for some people. Sobriety comes with the possibility of building a life that is both enjoyable and rewarding. Those individuals who put adequate effort into their new life will always be rewarded for it. Life as an addict is never going to lead to anywhere that the individual will want to be. It is a downward spiral that destroys every aspect of life that is good.
The Most Common Relapse Excuses
The most common reasons given for why people relapse include:
- Resentment is a highly destructive emotion for people in recovery. It often occurs if the individual feels that their efforts at rebuilding their life are not being appreciated. It also arises when they feel that other people are trying to control them too much. The newly sober person may decide that they will punish these other people by relapsing; of course the person they are most going to hurt is themselves.
- Anger makes it impossible for people to think straight. When their mind is full of rage they will be acting on impulse rather than rational thought. This means that they may pick up a drink, or take a drug, without any thought of the consequences. By the time they calm down the damage will already be done.
- People will sometimes try to justify their return to addiction by claiming that their life in recovery is a disappointment. These will usually be individuals who gave up their addiction with the belief that life would be perfect. They failed to realize that recovery is a process and not an event; it can take many years to rebuild after the destruction of addiction. When people in recovery have expectations that are too high it always leads to disappointment. It gives people an excuse to return to their previous misery when they could be building the life they always dreamt about.
- When the individual becomes stuck in recovery they will experience a great deal of dissatisfaction and stress. The reason why they have stopped making progress is that there is a challenge in their path that they are refusing to face. Their increasing discomfort can drive them to the nearest bar or a drug dealer. Their excuse will be that life just became too hard.
- Another excuse that people will have for returning to their addiction is that they feel unable to cope. This occurs because they have failed to replace their old coping strategies with new more effective ones. The coping strategy that every addict prefers is to escape problems by numbing their brain with chemicals. Obviously this way of dealing with things is not an option in sobriety. If people do not develop new coping strategies they will be tempted to return to their old way of dealing with things.
- Loneliness is another reason for why people will relapse. Escaping addiction means saying goodbye to drinking buddies or fellow drug users. If people fail to build a new social network it will lead to feelings of loneliness. They will start to miss their old friends, and this provides an excuse to return to their old behaviour.
- When people give up an addiction it will usually free up a lot of their time. This is because the addict will spend hours each day obtaining and using their drug of choice. If they do not find new ways of using this spare time in recovery it can lead to boredom. When people are bored it can lead to thoughts of how exciting life was when they were an addict – this is known as romancing he drink or drug.
- Early recovery is sometimes referred to as an emotional rollercoaster. People can be on the top of the world one minute then down in the dumps the next. If people do not become adept at handling these changes in the mental weather it will mean that their recovery is weak. They will use their emotional low or emotional high as a reason to relapse.
Removing the Excuses to Relapse
There is never a good excuse to justify relapse; it is always a bad decision. It is advisable that people do all they can to remove these excuses from their thinking. This can be achieved by:
- Developing effective coping strategies. This will make it easier to deal with problems as they arise.
- Build a social network of people who share similar goals. This will be somewhere to turn to for support, and there will be less risk of loneliness.
- It is vital that people find meaningful things to do with their time in recovery. This will give their life purpose and prevent them from becoming bored. Those individuals who have built a successful recovery usually complain that there is not enough hours in the day to do all the things they would like to do.
- When people become sober they will need to have realistic expectations. If they expect too much too soon they will almost certainly end up disappointed. It is possible to build a fantastic sober life, but it takes a lot of time and effort.
- It is vital that people have the right attitude when faced with challenges in recovery. Rather than viewing these problems as annoying obstacles, it is more productive to see them as offering an opportunity to grow. The only way that people become successful is by facing challenges and conquering them – such individuals make these problems their friends.
- There are a variety of effective techniques that people can use to help deal with their emotions. Some individuals derive great benefit from journaling while other people use techniques such as mindfulness meditation. The important thing to realize is that such emotions come and go. Once people become more firmly established in sobriety their emotional landscape should begin to level out.
- If people wish to be effective at avoiding relapse they need to learn as much as they can on the subject. This should include finding out all about the relapse process and relapse triggers. Every client in treatment at Hope learns to identify his unique relapse triggers. These triggers are then discussed prior to discharge and a sober response outlined. This should mean that when their mind begins to produce excuses for why they should return to alcohol or drugs they will be prepared.
Relapse Excuses during the Transition from Rehab to Home
The most dangerous time for newly sober individuals will tend to be during the transition from rehab to home. They will be leaving a supported and protective environment to face all the old temptations. If people are not adequately prepared then it is likely to mean that they will be bombarded with excuses to relapse and will not know how to fend these off. One of the most important aspects of rehab is to prepare people for the transition back home, but it is up to the individual to make the best use of the available resources. Hope Trust offers a short or long term 'Transit' option to clients so that their transition is gradual and monitored to optimize the chances of remaining clean and sober.