One of my biggest fears was that after managing to get clean following the rehab treatment, I would relapse sooner or later. Well, what do you know, it did happen one afternoon; the abundance of feelings and pressure that had built up inside me forced me to crack. Home alone and with nobody to stop me, I turned to my last hidden supply of Jack and got wasted.
Was I the First Guy in the World to Relapse? No, But…
As I would later find out, relapses constitute a major threat to a former alcoholicís efforts to remain on the straight and narrow, but not the greatest one. You see, eventually almost all former drinkers will succumb to temptation, for one reason or another. Mine was loneliness, confusion, and anxiety. Yours could be depression, a seeming lack of other options or even boredom.
However, the real underlying danger is not being able to handle this sudden failure that appears to have rendered every single effort and internal struggle won up to that point useless. Why is that so important you ask? A number of reasons actually, starting with the fact that you are on a direct course to chronic relapsing syndrome.
What Exactly Does Chronic Relapsing Imply?
Turning the implicit failure of a single relapse into a chronic issue is the worst possible thing that can happen. Your life is at risk of falling into a recurrent pattern of rehab-sobriety-relapse, often referred to in our community as the revolving door syndrome. The duration of the sobriety phase depends on the will of the alcoholic as well numerous other external factors. But the result, we learned, is always the same: relapsing over and over and over again, until you give up and decide that rehab simply doesn’t work for you.
Why is Chronic Relapsing Worse Than a Single Relapse?
Well, this one should be self explanatory, but in case it isn’t, hereís the scoop. Staying sober implies a great deal of time and effort Ė on your part and from your loved ones Ė as well as patience, self-restraint and numerous changes in your life. A single relapse could be perceived as a one-time mistake and a learning experience; now you know yourself AND your own limitations better.
However, keep in mind that a positive attitude towards the outcome, the support and trust from your family and friends, and your own strength-all of these factors are not limitless or unconditional. Falling into an inescapable web of failures to stay sober will eventually cause you to lose external support and, even more importantly, the willingness to try to refrain from alcohol. You will spiral down into depression and a very dark place, a place thatís really difficult to leave.
How Can You Prevent it From Happening to You?
One thing I’ve learned over the course of many meetings is that every alcoholic has his own triggers and, at the same time, individual barriers between him and recovery. For some, itís a bloated sense of self confidence, while for others itís the fear of the unknown. One patient might relapse because he failed to prepare for the transition between the rehab facility and the real world, while another failed because he exposed himself to emotional triggers way to soon.
My advice? Follow the treatment recommended by the personnel to the letter and attend every meeting you can to learn more about the mistakes and negative experience of others, so you can better devise your own, personalized recovery and social reintegration plan.