It’s all too easy to shame, judge, and criticize a loved one suffering from addiction. Addiction is nothing less than horrendous- for our loved one who is struggling and for us, as the family members or supporters of someone struggling with addiction. Relapse can be, and oftentimes is, part of the story for someone living with addiction. Even in recovery, relapse can happen because the brain is still vulnerable to old ways of thinking, which have been conditioned by addiction.
In addiction, the brain learns that the default answer to any kind of stimulus in life is to use drugs and alcohol. When chemical dependency takes place, meaning both the brain and the body are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol, that messaging increases tenfold. Addiction starts as a response to the feeling of pleasure. Once metabolized in the bloodstream and circulating throughout the brain, drugs and alcohol stimulate the production of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for sending messages and sensations of pleasure throughout the rest of the brain. At the start, addiction is a cycle of seeking pleasure. Eventually, addiction becomes a cycle of seeking survival, which has become confused with that sacred production of dopamine. Everything in life becomes centered around first getting high or drunk. According to the brain and body, living under the influence becomes the only way to live. Any other way of living, any other way of having to deal with incoming life stimulus which isn’t drugs and alcohol, is a direct threat to survival.
Relapse rates are high because learning to live in recovery and deal with life sober isn’t easy. Recovery takes hard work, work which puts stress on the recovering brain and sets off those old circuit systems which urge someone to use drugs and alcohol instead. When we say in recovery that living sober is learning to live a new life, it is no exaggeration. We are working to change every single thing about every single way we know how to live life under the influence. If we lose our footing, forget our recovery, or step too deep into the old footsteps of addiction, we are vulnerable to relapse. Relapse is always a choice. Sometimes, our ability to make the right choice is compromised by our need to survive.
When relapse happens, we have to move as quickly as possible to move back into our recovery programming. We have to teach the brain, once again, that this is not the way we want to live and that survival doesn’t have to be our primary operation. Unfortunately, that survival operation might try to convince us that we shouldn’t tell our parents, our employers, or our spouses, that we’ve relapsed. What we have to do is the exact opposite. We have to admit a relapse and we have to work with our support team to take the next indicated step toward getting back on the right path toward recovery.
At Hired Power, we believe in the right to and ability to have self-direction. A loved one who admits a relapse is readily met with necessary consequences which have already been agreed upon between their Hired Power team and their family, employer, or whoever else is helping keep them accountable. We work to find understanding for what went wrong, gain insight on what will help moving forward, and make important decisions as to whether or not a higher level of care is needed. Relapse does not always mean that treatment is required. However, in the case that a return to some kind of treatment is the best course of option, Hired Power will help do all the planning, from Safe Passage Transportation to Treatment Planning and renewing a Monitoring Services contract.
Loved ones have to also be met with the understanding, empathy, and compassion needed to direct them in the right direction again. Self-direction offers us the opportunity to make our own decisions, the right ones which we know how to make, to take us away from relapse and put us into recovery again whether that is a treatment or not. Working together with our Hired Power team and our support system, we can know that we are doing okay, despite a setback, and that we can get back on the path to thriving, not just surviving.
At Hired Power, our mission is simple: bring recovery home. By supporting the family through every stage of the recovery journey, our recovery services allow families to put family first and learn how to live and love together again. Call us today for more information on our recovery services: 1-800-910-9299
“I have worked with Hired Power extensively in collaboration with Clearview Treatment Programs’ individualized outpatient program. I am always impressed with their effectiveness and professionalism.”
“Thanks again for being there for us and guiding us through some rough waters. Your kindness and genuine concern deeply touched my soul and we are all grateful our paths crossed when they did. You are a truly gifted professional, keep on doing what you do so well.”
“I just want to thank Hired Power for the PRA. He was a perfect match and I can’t say enough…. He was intensely committed. This is the first time I have been clean in over 30 years. Thank you again.”
“I don’t look at you (Hired Power) as hiring a service, I look at you as saving my life.” (referring to his ability to stay sober after returning home).