Drug and alcohol addiction is a powerful disease that hijacks the brain, so it inhibits people from making clear decisions. While rehab is essential to addiction recovery, it often takes more than one attempt to overcome addiction and to experience long-term recovery.
Understand that multiple stays in rehab do not discredit a rehab facility, they simply point out the power of addiction. Unfortunately, relapse is common in many stories of recovery—while it will not happen to every recovering addict, it is a problem that you must counter by anticipating it.
Addiction rewires the brain to crave drugs when it senses a situation associated with drug use. Therefore, recovering addicts may require more than one stay in rehab, because they may relapse for any of the following reasons:
- Stress – People often underestimate the power of stress and its ability to cause relapse, but stress often occurs on a daily basis. People may think they have healthy coping mechanisms that discourage relapse, but a recovering addict may lack such skills, or she may be too new to recovery to handle an unforeseen stressor.
- Difficult emotions – Emotions are also powerful triggers for relapse, as problems like fear, anger and depression can all send recovering addicts into tempting situations
- People and places – Simply bumping into an old friend who abuses drugs or driving by a place where you formerly abused drugs can cause the brain to crave drugs. Again, without strong coping skills, someone may easily succumb to relapse in light of these situations.
- Celebrations – Holidays and friendly parties are often a natural part of life, but they can be dangerous scenarios for recovering addicts. Even if a recovering addict did not struggle with alcohol in the past, the environment and desire to have a good time can send people searching for their substance, and thereby back into addiction.
Professional treatment and ongoing therapy work to undo the damage done by addiction, and then they teach recovering addicts how to overcome relapse triggers in the future. In other words, recovery is a life-long, dynamic experience, so recovery addicts must be constantly changing to avoid relapse for the long term.