If 2020 was your jam, we salute you. For most of us, though, it was a rough year. Careers, health, relationships, security—so many things felt as though they hung in the balance or maybe even slipped away. As a result, many people found themselves moving from recovery into a relapse. And it’s no surprise, really. As you’ll read below, relapse is an expected reaction to the stressors of our time.
Still, if you’re the spouse or partner of a person who’s overcome addiction, relapse can feel disheartening and maybe even scary. We want to help. Let’s talk about what you might be up against and what you can do about it. And take heart! This year—2021—is already shaping up to be one filled with the hope of recovery.
We’ll all get there together.
Recovery and Relapse: It’s Complicated
You probably know this already, but it’s worth repeating: for many people, recovery and relapse go hand in hand. Not the most, ahem, sobering of thoughts.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a room of 10 recovered individuals will see between four and six return to their substance of choice at one time or another. And research from Recovery Answers puts the remission period—after which time relapse is less likely—at five years post-recovery. Five years!
All of this to say, there’s a fine line between recovery and relapse. And while you may find these facts discouraging, can we encourage you to see them another way?
Professionals in the field of substance abuse treatment and family therapy aren’t surprised by relapse. They know relapse may be coming, and they know how to help patients find their way back to recovery with new or adjusted treatment plans.
Stress Can Take A Person From Recovery to Relapse
We recognize that relapse is not only a possible part of recovery but a likely one. What about in stressful situations. Like, say, the last year or so? You better believe trauma ups the need for a formerly addicted individual to use or drink again.
One study of more than 34,000 people found that stress can cause both an immediate and a delayed response. Meaning a person may relapse while in the throes of a troubling time or even years later because of it.
This same study found that the odds of relapse increase each time a stressful occurrence gets added to a person’s plate. Findings show that a person enduring “three stressful life events is 72% more likely to report problematic drug use.”
Do you know anyone who hasn’t felt three intense stressors in the past year?
If your loved one has begun to abuse substances again, they’re certainly not alone. And if they’ve stayed clean for the time being, you’d be wise to keep a watchful, loving eye out for any sign that they may need help in the future.
Regardless of your situation, you might also consider how you can reduce the stress in your home and encourage healthy coping mechanisms in your partner.
The Other R’s You Should Know About: Relationship and Research
Okay, so relapse is a normal part of recovery, and stress is a known inducer of relapse. Facts in hand, here’s what you can do now:
Use your relationship to your advantage. After all, you love your partner and likely know them more than anyone else. You can approach them with love to discuss any suspected substance abuse. You can also work with your partner to create protective triggers. Shatterproof describes protective triggers this way:
“A person in recovery is rewarded by a family every day they’re sober—with proud praise, quality time, lunch dates, trinkets—it creates a positive trigger for recovery.”
Research the best next steps. Shatterproof also encourages a call to a doctor or counselor at the first sign of trouble. Professionals can help you sort through options and treatment plans. You can also research opportunities for family therapy—proven to be more successful than individual therapy alone.
Here at the Right Step DFW, we’d love to help you with each of the R’s mentioned above: relapse, recovery, relationship and research. We will support you and your family as you begin to work through your partner’s substance abuse cycle and find common ground for hope and healing.
To find out more about our substance use treatment services, call us at 844.675.0964.
Our recovery specialist will answer your questions and help you better understand the best options for your partner.
By Stephanie Thomas