It is sure to be disheartening to repeatedly fail in your attempts to break free of alcohol or drugs. You may begin to worry that these relapses signify that you just don’t have what it takes to live a sober life. Unfortunately, it is common for people to fail multiple times when trying to quit addiction. The good news is you will be able to break free for good once you have the right attitude and resources.
Why Do Some People Become Serial Relapsers?
“How does one become a butterfly? They have to want to learn to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
The most common reasons people give for relapse include negative emotions, social pressure, cravings, and conflicts in relationships. The reality is that becoming physically sober is usually not enough to be able to deal with these challenges – you need to have the right tools and the motivation to use them.
Those of us who relapse also tend to be suffering from ambivalence towards recovery. We are not fully committed, and we still hold onto the hope of one day being able to drink or use drugs again. This failure to completely commit to our new life means we can easily be knocked off-course as soon as things start to go wrong.
Can Serial Relapsers Succeed in Rehab?
One of the dangers of multiple relapses is it reduces your self-efficacy (your belief in your ability to succeed). This can lead to a cynical attitude towards recovery and an acceptance of addiction.
If you are willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober, you will almost certainly succeed in rehab. It doesn’t matter if you have relapsed many times in the past, it’s what you do now that counts. There are countless examples of serial relapsers who eventually managed to achieve a lasting recovery, and if they can do it, so can you.
The fact it is so common for people to fail multiple times before they finally quit has led to the idea that ‘relapse is a normal part of recovery’. There is some truth in this statement, but it certainly does not mean that you need to fail repeatedly. The worry is that those of us who are still caught up in addiction will use the justification that it is ‘normal to relapse’ to justify our behaviour. Remember, the sooner you stop drinking or abusing drugs the better.