When Someone Relapses, Does That Mean They Failed?

The short answer to this question is pretty basic:  Absolutely Not!!

To understand the long answer, you have to look at the disease of addiction.  Addiction of any kind is a lifelong disease, it isn’t something that you “cure” and never have to think about again.

Living a life of sobriety is easier for some people than for others.  There are many people who will have to fight this dreaded disease every day for the rest of their lives.

For many people, the road to sobriety isn’t a straight line.  It can consist of taking several steps forward, followed by a step backwards.  This backwards step doesn’t mean they failed, it just means it was another step that will eventually lead to their next giant leap forward.

Relapse can also be an important step toward accepting that the addict has a problem.  Many people believe they can control their drinking or drug use to stop it from overtaking their lives.  A major relapse is sometimes what it takes to convince them that they truly do have a problem.

In other cases, it can take several stints in rehab before the addict finally “gets it” and everything clicks into place.  Each step is a step closer to the end goal, even though it might not always seem like it.

The important thing about a relapse isn’t whether or not it happened, it’s what happens afterwards.

The person who has relapsed needs to call a friend who is succeeding in their recovery and immediately get back on the right track.

After a relapse, it’s critical to a future of sobriety to ask and answer several different questions.  The level of honesty with these answers will determine future success.

  • Why did it happen?
  • What triggered the relapse?
  • Was it planned out ahead of time?

The answers to these questions can help identify situations that you should avoid until you have more strength in your sobriety.

If you or someone you love suffers a relapse, don’t treat it like a failure.  Look into why it happened, learn from it and recognize it as an important step in your journey to sobriety.

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