Rehab is an important stage in the process of recovery from addiction, but it is not the end. There is no cure for addiction; people who develop an addiction will have that condition for the remainder of their lives. The important thing to keep in mind is to never stop trying to stay sober.
The goal of rehab is to teach people how to cope with addiction—how they can live their lives without resorting to drugs or alcohol. During rehab, people who suffer from addiction gain a deep understanding of the triggers and experiences that make them seek solace in drugs or alcohol.1 They learn how to make positive choices instead of using substances. Rehab is not about suppressing cravings, but rather about teaching people how to respond differently to those cravings and urges.
Addiction is a chronic illness that is never going to go away. Over time, the strength and the frequency of cravings will tend to diminish, and it becomes easier for people who are addicted to handle them. Nevertheless, relapse rates are high, and all people in rehab will learn relapse prevention techniques.
Some experts consider a client to have relapsed only when they start repeatedly using the addictive substance again. Others believe that a single episode of drinking or taking drugs after rehab is a relapse. What experts agree on is that any incidence of using drugs or alcohol following treatment has the potential to make clients start abusing those substances again.
Relapse is Not Failure
Experts also agree that clients who relapse have not failed, but have merely undergone a step backward on the road to recovery. While relapse can be very distressing for people in recovery and those who love them, it is not a hopeless situation.
Those suffering from addiction who have sought treatment have already taken a major step in controlling their addiction. If a relapse occurs after treatment, it only means that they need to reexamine their sobriety tool kit and add whatever coping skill is found to be missing. Every time a person with addiction seeks the help of experts in rehab, they become better able to withstand cravings.
The very best rehab treatments are tailor-made for each individual. When a client relapses, addiction therapists will work with the client to try to understand the reasons for the relapse. Once those reasons have been identified, the therapist will work with the client to develop a defensive strategy to come up with a more positive way to deal with future temptations. Every time a client relapses and returns for rehab treatment, that client’s skill set for dealing with temptations is strengthened.
Never Stop Trying
If you have tried rehab but then relapsed, do not give up hope. Forty to sixty percent of those who attend rehab will relapse at some point.1 You have already demonstrated that you have the mental strength and the determination to get clean. You can build on that by returning to rehab once more. Never stop trying to get and stay clean.