Insight for the Journey: Understanding Relapse Complexities Part 2

Insight for the Journey: Understanding Relapse Complexities Part 2

Yesterday, in part 1, I began our discussion of several important external factors that make seeking treatment harder. It’s helpful to understand the various challenges people face when combating a substance use disorder. Here are five more issues that must be overcome. 

6. A Toxic Family System- Returning to an unsupportive or toxic family can be devastating to one’s recovery. It is disheartening if a client’s family does not understand the chronic nature of substance use disorders or the work necessary to maintain a recovery program. Substance using family members may actively encourage drug or alcohol use. Physical and verbal abuse and domestic violence can poison one’s resolve and compromise motivation to remain sober. Family involved therapy and strong boundaries are often necessary to stay in recovery. 

7. Community Social Pressure- There is an enormous amount of pressure to use alcohol and drugs in celebration and in social gatherings of all types. Your friends and acquaintances may not support your recovery as much as they value your substance use activities. Most people who are successful in their recovery found some lifestyle changes to be necessary. Some people have hobbies and interests that seemingly support substance use. They golf so they can drink, fish so they can drink, go camping so they can drink, and go bowling so they can drink. To stay in recovery, careful consideration of these activities is essential. Keep in mind that your network of friends may supply significant pressure to go back into your old patterns. 

8. Situational Stressors- A life of recovery is not easy and is made more difficult by the uninvited consequences that often follow a substance use disorder. Relationship problems, financial difficulties, loss of friends through overdose or suicide all add significant stress. These stressful situations and circumstances may tempt some to escape or comfort themselves through drug or alcohol use. Also, unemployment increases relapse potential through the hardship of poverty and the risk of homelessness. 

9. Legal Problems- Legal consequences and requirements often make treatment necessary but may make getting treatment more difficult at the same time. The loss of a driver’s license makes getting to outpatient treatment or to work extra tough. Arranging rides or using public transportation is often complicated and frustrating. A felony record may limit access to housing and employment. Not surprisingly, these legal problems may add to relapse potential rather than serve as motivation for sobriety. 

10. Physical Health Issues- There are a wide variety of medical and physical problems which can compromise one’s recovery program. Chronic pain and some of the medications used to treat it can be relapse triggers. Long-term drug and alcohol use can alter brain chemistry. Because your body will be out of sorts during early recovery, be patient with yourself, allowing time for healing to occur. Following through with medical appointments and taking medications as prescribed can be an important part of maintaining sobriety. It is important to manage any health issues such as kidney problems, liver damage, heart problems, and diabetic conditions. Being proactive with your health and wellness is a tremendous advantage to your long-term recovery. 

Running a successful recovery program requires hard work. Be willing to identify the challenges as they arise. Acknowledging the potential relapse pitfalls is a powerful first step in avoiding them. 

Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!

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