Relapses Are Often Part Of Addiction Recovery
Addiction recovery is a process. Sometimes despite working our best program and years of sobriety, relapses may happen. Many patients treated for a substance abuse disorder experience at least one relapse. But like other chronic illnesses, with treatment, new tools and the continued courage to keep reaching out for help, maintaining sobriety, even after a relapse, is possible.
First and foremost, a relapse is often life-threatening. What makes it so dangerous is that after months, years or even weeks of sobriety, we often have a reduced tolerance for substances and immediate emergency intervention may be necessary.
"People who use a drug regularly develop a tolerance for it; that is, they require larger doses to get the same effects. Just as quickly, tolerance can diminish," writes Dr. David Sack for Huffington Post. "After even a brief period of abstinence … the brain becomes less accustomed to — or less tolerant of — the presence of drugs. As a result of this increased sensitivity, if an addict goes back to the same dose they used prior to rehab, they are at high risk of fatal overdose."
After receiving acute medical care for a relapse, it can also be a sign that additional resources or support are needed for recovery. This can include longer term inpatient treatment, starting psychotherapy, attending more meetings, reevaluating social relationships, and removing as many triggers as possible. Also consider creating a game plan that includes how to deal with tempting situations when they can't be avoided, who you'll call when a craving hits or in an emergency, and self-soothing and coping techniques.
For music industry professionals looking for extra support after a relapse, MusiCares offers a slate of addiction recovery services, from help finding rehab treatment to free weekly support groups in select cities just for music people, and a network of professionals in recovery willing to help others on their own journey.
If you're struggling, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There's nothing to ashamed of if a relapse occurs — it happens to many in recovery. You're not alone and your life is worth fighting for. As one unknown commenter said: "Recovery: It will be challenging. It will be worth it. You will relapse, and that's OK, as long as you keep fighting."