Recovery can make us feel vulnerable and invincible all at once. On one hand, we feel like we have the strength and self-awareness to take on the world; on the other, we know that there is any number of things that can complicate our lives waiting right around the corner. Many of us become so obsessed with the idea of self-preservation that we forget how to actually practice. It’s all too possible to let our fears and resentment get the better of us and wind up doing something we regret. These triggers often come out of nowhere and, despite our preparation in treatment, we can’t possible anticipate everything.
The key is to be able to leverage the tools and resources we acquire in treatment and therapy to strengthen our confidence and adapt to stressful situations, while this is easier said than done, we don’t have to let stress dictate our health. Some of the more common causes of relapse, include:
Family – Yes, it’s true. While our families can be our single greatest source of strength and inspiration, they can also make it difficult for us to transition back into our lives after we complete our treatment program. We can’t blame them for any lingering doubts they may have about our commitment to recovery. After all, many of us said and did things to our families when we were using that were borderline unforgivable. We can, however, give them their space, respect their terms, answer any of their questions and start proving ourselves day by day.
Old Friends – Let’s face it, most of us have friends who are still actively using and may look at us differently now that we’re in recovery. These are toxic connections that we want to avoid at all costs until they make the decision, like we did, to get help. It may seem callous and cruel, but if it comes down to a choice between risking our recovery and hurting someone’s feelings, we have to be prepared to choose the latter. If out treatment was effective, we’ve already started feeling that sense of empowerment.
Pressure to Fit In – This obstacle goes beyond simple peer pressure. Recovery takes us out of our old lives until we’re able to manage them without coping with drugs and alcohol. This transition can be jarring and have a serious impact on our careers, our relationships and our families. We may not even feel like the same person anymore. When we struggle to find our identity, we just have to remember the people we were before drugs and alcohol took over our lives.
As natural as it may feel in the short term, relapse and substance abuse is the least natural thing through which we could put ourselves. If we lean on the people who care about us and communicate our fears and concerns, we can further insulate ourselves from the possibility of relapse and live the life we were meant to live.