Often, people ask if recovery works. Yes, each year recovery helps people change their lives. At the same time, each year, many others relapse, or return to drinking/using drugs. This leads to the misconception that recovery programs are not working.
There are many factors that lead to a successful recovery and also to a relapse. Living the life of recovery is much more than just not drinking or using drugs. A life in recovery is about becoming accountable and responsible for your own actions. Recovery is about acceptance and honesty – to yourself and others. Case in point, how many people who abuse drugs or alcohol deny they have a problem?
Those who are new to recovery learn about taking things one day at a time. They learn about accepting things they cannot change. They learn how to cope with difficult situations without taking a drink or using drugs. These are a few tools that help maintain recovery and avoid relapse.
Related article: Florida Drug Recovery Program Success Rates
If a person decides to lose 20 pounds, they generally start a diet and exercise regimen. They may be successful, but after losing the weight what happens next? If the diet and exercise are not incorporated into a healthy new lifestyle, the 20 pounds will return. People who are serious about losing weight through a healthy lifestyle will say it is a process. They did not gain the weight in a month; they will not lose the weight in a month. During the process, they will see fluctuations – lose five pounds, gain two, and so forth until they reach their goal and transition to maintaining that consistent weight.
To a great degree, weight loss is like recovery. The difference is the consequences. If you cheat on your diet one day by eating a donut during a company meeting, chances are, you won’t go on a donut binge and destroy the diet. However, for those who have struggled with alcohol or drug abuse, one drink or one time using can easily send the person into a spiral of continued use simply because of the chemical change that takes place within the body.
Others will protest and say I know someone who went to a recovery program and was kicked out for using. Another example is my brother/sister/mother/father/son/daughter went to recovery program and just a few days after being done with the program, went back to the same issues. Recovery doesn’t work….
There are several reasons to explain these failures or relapses. People in treatment have not fully developed coping skills to help them get through difficult situations. Often, counseling involves discussing and confronting issues that originally led to the substance abuse, such as some sort of personal trauma. Generally, people suffering from addiction would prefer suppressing memories of the event and self-medicate through drugs and alcohol. When individuals choose to not face these issues, they will often resort to what they know provides comfort. Another reason people relapse early in the recovery process is due to a lack of acceptance and honesty about the problem. Some people enter a program to satisfy other family members, but fail to engage in the treatment process and self-reflection. Finally, there are people who sabotage their own success. For many, this could be due to a lack of self-confidence that fuels fear; the fear of not knowing how to cope in society after years of being in an addictive state, the fear of failing in a marriage, as a parent or professionally. For these people, failing immediately is “easier” than failing down the road.
Every year, thousands of people begin a life of recovery. They nurture and maintain their recovery through daily affirmations and 12-Step meetings. They understand and accept that recovery is a process.