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Why Do People Relapse After Years of Sobriety?

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There are millions of success stories of people who finally ended their addiction to drugs, alcohol, or both and regained their lives to stay sober for decades to come. These individuals were willing to do whatever it takes to get and remain sober. Then, some people have recovered from their addiction and on all accounts are doing well in life. They have jobs, and they are loved and respected by their family and friends. And even their personalities are different and how they take responsibility for their feelings and problems. Yet, the power of addiction also referred to as substance use disorder (SUD), can reclaim a person’s existence and lead to a relapse quicker than most people realize. It is well understood that addiction is a progressive disease that is similar to other progressive diseases. If left untreated, it will get worse. The symptoms of Substance Use Disorder are drug and alcohol abuse. However, once these symptoms stop, it does not mean the disease is cured, only managed. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains why drug and alcohol abuse are considered diseases; that drug and alcohol use are but symptoms of the disease. In the same way, other diseases have symptoms that can harm or end someone’s life, so can chemical dependency.

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs. Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of an organ in the body, both have serious harmful effects, and both are, in many cases, preventable and treatable. If left untreated, they can last a lifetime and may lead to death. (NIDA)

Why Do People Relapse After Years of Sobriety?

Why Do Some People Relapse After Recovery?

So why do some people relapse even after they have remained clean and sober for many years? The answer is not overly complicated but requires some detailed explanations, and we will address three common reasons someone might relapse. The first reason that someone may relapse after years of sobriety might be that they did not continue to do everything necessary to ensure their sobriety. Recovery takes work and commitment. It is progress, not perfection, but it needs to be nurtured and treated like another disease that can quickly return with full-blown symptoms. The ways that people do remain sober is a vital example of how to do it, and persons in new recovery are told to follow their lead. Some individuals decide that they would instead do it their way and take a self-directed path in recovery. Unfortunately, most people fail and relapse when they attempt to do what they think is best. Persons with Substance Use Disorder have a disease of the mind and emotions that stem from multiple influencers. Recovering addicts and alcoholics must repeat what others have done to stay sober. Doing it alone or his or her way is not recommended because even when the drugging and drinking have stopped, the disease is still present and ruling the mind essentially. Drug addiction triggers like anxiety can cause a person to relapse because they don’t know how to manage their own stress.

You Can Recover From Addiction

A recovering addict or alcoholic will improve, their disease does begin to change for the better, but only after they let go of their beliefs and ways of handling life’s stressors. A successful lifelong recovering person will completely acknowledge the fact that their instincts and initial reaction to situations and life can take them down a dark path. If left unchecked can head them towards the bottle or drug. The reality about recovery is that those instincts do remain intact, although less intense until they die. In specific ways, recovering addicts and alcoholics could be compared to someone who has cancer, which has gone in remission or under control. That person is no longer sick and suffering. But if they do not continue to take their cancer medications or whatever therapeutic regimen keeps their cancer at bay, they will get sick again. The same goes for people in recovery from SUD. They need to continuously take their medicine in whatever form that is for them that others suggested works. The second reason a person might relapse after long-term sobriety is if they become complacent or lazy about their recovery. Many people rely on the 12 steps to get and remain sober. There are times when someone will stop going to as many meetings or stop calling their sponsor or doing their step work. Persons who are not diligent about continuing their recovery work daily will eventually not feel so great.

Take Advantage of the Twelve-Steps

Thankfully, many people do come around to the realization that they do need a meeting a few times a week and that calling their sponsor always helps them feel better. Generally, people who become complacent in their recovery and do not feel like doing the work are at risk for relapse. If it goes on long enough, they will lose the ability to recognize that they do need the support and help from others or will fail to reach out when they feel like drinking or drugging. The third reason someone may relapse after years of sobriety is common. Many individuals in recovery who are doing all the work that others have who attained positive and robust recovery have done. Still, they miss this one thing: And that is to share the knowledge of how they got and remained sober with another person. To stay at peace in recovery, it is essential to give your wisdom and experience away. The very act of sharing your story and helping another person down from the ledge of relapse creates a sense of understanding and belonging to a common struggle and purpose more than anything else. It is the cement in between the bricks of recovery work that holds the house up when the wind or rain comes crashing down.

Overcome Substance Abuse

The first step a person needs to take to end their addiction to drugs or alcohol is to reach out for professional help. The treatment programs we offer at Evoke Wellness Miramar rely on advanced treatment methods that are proven to help some attain lifelong recovery. Evoke Wellness Miramar offers medically managed detox, short and long-term treatment programs in South Florida, and extended aftercare planning and opportunities. Our multi-faceted levels of care provide a comprehensive approach to treating addiction at its core.