The Ups and Downs of Addiction

January 2, 2015

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Ups and Downs of Addiction

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process. The first few months after completing a treatment program is the most critical time. Drugs and alcohol may have been the only coping tool available to a person for years. Suddenly, the person has to adjust to life without a substance and apply a new set of coping skills. This adjustment period can really take a toll on a person and carries some of the most intense ups and downs of addiction.

Understanding The Ups and Downs of Addiction

During recovery, the person experiences a barrage of emotions. One may encounter overwhelming feelings like guilt, shame, denial and a range of other emotions. The mind has to sift through years and years of emotional baggage as well. Working through the emotional issues in a sober moment can be quite overwhelming.

Relapse Statistics

The average relapse rate is between 50 and 90 percent. According to recent research, 80 percent of patients battling an alcohol addiction will relapse within the first year. After multiple years in recovery, the rate of relapse drops. After two years, the relapse rate is 40 percent for those who can maintain sobriety for two years. The rate goes down even more after a five-year period.

Rebuilding a New Life

When the addict has to rebuild a new life without drugs, the person has to change every aspect of their life. One has to create a new lifestyle, which may require removing old friends that one partied with during their drug addiction days. The person may have to stop hanging out in environments that can present emotional triggers. One may need to produce a list of high risk environments that could put a person at risk for resuming their drug habit. A person in recovery has to create a life full of new, productive habits. Adjusting to a significant amount of change is a lot for some people to handle, and is one of the toughest ups and downs of addiction.

Early Challenges, Applying the Tools

Many people require ongoing treatment and aftercare. Taking into account the environmental, psychological and social issues that can trigger substance abuse is an essential part of the recovery process. As a part of a relapse prevention program, one can learn the tools to cope with depression, stress and other emotional issues that can come with an addiction. Stressors and cravings are another part of the recovery experiences people have to be prepared for in their new life. In the right program, individuals can learn how to overcome their cravings and manage stressful situations. Learning how to envision the consequences of a potential setback like a relapse is instrumental in deterring the person from making a serious mistake. Relapse prevention can also prepare a person to deal with a minor lapse before it ultimately becomes a major relapse.

Risks in Not Being Able to Address Challenges

Relapse often happens when a person gets stuck at some point in their recovery. The person may be faced with a challenge that they may not be prepared to confront. One may not be able to handle the issue that is causing them to become stuck at their particular stage in recovery. Recovery is about progressing forward and overcoming the obstacles in a person’s path. If a person isn’t prepared to deal with the issue, the person remains at risk of relapse. Without the right tools, the person may resort to inappropriate methods of coping with issues and challenges. Lack of coping skills can make it easy to return to alcohol abuse and drugs.

What Are Some Aftercare Options Available to a Person?

Relapse prevention and aftercare programs are critical during the transitioning period. Resources like individualized counseling can be helpful. Individuals may attend family counseling programs with their loved ones to create a better support system and facilitate healing. Educational programs and other step programs are extremely useful for recovering addicts. The ups and downs of addiction are difficult to navigate without professional counseling and support. Aftercare, counseling and educational programs can improve chances of a successful recovery. Individuals who are dedicated to their recovery and are empowered with the coping skills to adapt to the various triggers and stressors in their environment are more likely to have a successful outcome.

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