Although they’re getting lower, relapse rates in addiction recovery are historically high. As much as we struggle not to let these numbers affect us, it’s easy to feel like a statistic even when we haven’t shown the slightest signs of vulnerability during our recovery. The cloud of relapse is always looming over our heads, for some of us a motivator and for others an albatross. Like anything else, it’s far too easy to let our vulnerability to relapse become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we become obsessed and consumed with the possibility of a setback, we’re much more likely to gravitate toward it.
We have to realize that there’s a difference between mindfulness and fixation. There’s a healthy level of reality in admitting the strong possibility of relapse based on others that came before us, but there’s also a healthy level of strength and optimism when we acknowledge that we can beat the odds and transcend statistics. When we rely on the integrity of our treatment programs and aftercare plans and continue our therapy and attendance at meetings, we further ensure that our story can be, and is different from others. As we get more and more comfortable in our routines, the prospect of relapse becomes more and more distant, although it never fully leaves us.
As much as people like to throw predictive numbers out there, the reality is that none of us are abstractions. We are living, breathing individuals with our strengths and vulnerabilities. When we recognize our uniqueness and our special ability to overcome drugs or alcohol, we further empower ourselves against the numbers that scare us so much. While it’s important to always be mindful of the possibility of relapse, we can’t let the specter of fear interfere with our recovery. We’re at our best when we have a healthy and realistic respect for our vulnerability while putting our strengths front and center.