Many people relapse during the first year of recovery. The single most common reason I hear for people being readmitted to treatment is that they stopped going to meetings and stopped doing the things they were taught to do in treatment.
Remember that addiction is never cured. It only goes into remission. And it probably doesn’t get better while it’s in remission - in fact, some people believe that it gets worse.
Relapse doesn’t start with using again. It starts a long time before you pick the addiction back up, in the form of attitudes and feelings. That is why ongoing support is so important.
Outcome studies done on people who have completed treatment clearly show that the people who do best are the ones who continue to attend meetings and participate in recommended follow-up.
Remember, too, not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
If you slip and use again, don’t consider your recovery to be over. Go back to your meetings and get back in touch with your counselor or doctor. Do something. There are important reasons why you slipped and if you are going to be successful you have to understand them.
It may be that you need some additional treatment, such as counseling or psychotherapy, or that you need medication.
It may be that you have family problems that have not yet been addressed. Whatever it is, it’s fixable as long as you are willing to deal with it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some people to go through treatment several times before getting it right.
Elizabeth Connell Henderson, M.D.
Appendix A: Regulation of Addictive Substances
Appendix B: Sources of Additional Information