You’re stuck with it.
Your brain has changed. Addictive substances have re-structured the inner workings of your mind, and the squishy stuff beneath that head of hair (or lack thereof) has taken on a new challenge: the challenge of addiction—and all that comes with it.
Part of the unforgiving package of addiction is a little word that starts with “re” and ends with “lapse.” We don’t like to talk about it, but it happens too often to brush over or not bring up, so let’s discuss it: the reality of relapse.
And, (by the way) what’s the “big deal”?
Reality of Relapse
Josh Hamilton, a recovering addict and one of baseball’s best ever, could tell you why relapse is a big deal. In 2009, a couple of drinks almost changed his career. Luckily for the 2010 AL MVP, a little fortitude, faith, forbearance and a lot of fines lead him to quite the recovery; and now he leads the AL in home runs and is batting .417.
According to ESPN, since he was drafted to the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999, Hamilton has had a history of abusive encounters with cocaine, alcohol, and heroin. And after four years of living the “high life” as a professional athlete, the league decided they’d had enough and dropped him.
We all thought (or at least I did) that his three-year baseball ban from 2003 to 2006 would keep him away from the stuff. But soon after his re-entrance into MLB, addiction raised its nasty head and bit—relapse ensued—ouch. And Josh was once again quickly under the media’s microscope.
After vows that he’d never touch drugs or alcohol again, Hamilton relapsed for a second time in 2010. Sad.
Of course this is just one out of a million relapse stories I could probably relate to you, but that isn’t the point. The point is that addicts do, and frequently, relapse. But why—why do addicts relapse? And how could someone still be addicted four years after his last drink?
The Why and How of Relapse
Most of you probably already know what relapse is, so let’s get more specific and distinguish between “lapse” and “relapse.”
A lapse occurs when you have previouly developed abstinence from a substance–say alcohol–but then one time, you have a beer (just one.) Relapse is when you begin to regularly abuse the substance and reap the negative consequences because of it.
Dr. Stephen Gilman, an addiction specialist and MD says that “Relapse can occur because [addiction] is a chronic disorder. As there is no cure, there is always the potential for relapse.” Because addiction is a chronic illness, relapse is always a reality.
At this point some of you may be asking, “well, if I can’t avoid it, then why even try?” or “if I’m stuck with addiction, then relapse is inevitable, right?” My answer to that is, no! Not at all.
Although addiction is a disease, you still have to choose to relapse back into the act of it. And you have a responsibility to yourself to do your very best and avoid a future relapse.
Years of research and development have been poured into forming an effective way to help addicts make the right choices. Treatment centers around the world exist to help addicts and to prevent future drug use and relapse in our country.
Duffy’s Rehab has taken relapse prevention seriously for over 40 years, we prepare addicts for after rehab—allowing for a long and reliable life of abstinence. If you think you or a friend may be in danger of a relapse, reach out today for help.