Dealing with the Speed Bumps of Recovery

Dealing with the Speed Bumps of Recovery

When you encounter a speed bump, speak with your recovery sponsor or an addiction counselor immediately

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder. In 2011, a Yale University researcher published a relapse vulnerability study in Current Psychiatry Reports that states most recovering addicts relapse within the first year. Still, the rate is similar to the relapse rates among other diseases, and in 2003 the Addiction journal shows that one-year outcomes are significantly better for people who receive treatment. Addiction is a disease that physically changes the brain, so it takes time to implement recovery strategies to foster improvement. Especially during the first few years of recovery, recovering addicts will experience setbacks and struggles, but knowing how to deal with the speed bumps helps sobriety continue.

How to Respond to Addiction Relapse

Speed bumps might include obsessive thoughts, stressful situations, intense substance cravings, unhealthy relationships and relapse. When such obstacles arise, recovering addicts can respond in several important ways, including the following:

  • Do not conceal the problem, even if you fear disappointing loved ones
  • Speak with your recovery sponsor or an addiction counselor immediately
  • Consider a temporary move to a new setting that provides more accountability
  • Discuss the struggle openly at the next recovery support meeting
  • Learn from any mistakes or misjudgments that may have been made

In some cases, the recovering addict may have made mistakes that brought about the speed bump. Common missteps include the following examples:

  • Overconfidence that having one drink or going to a bar will not be a problem
  • Weaning commitment to aftercare therapies, recovery partners and local support groups
  • Allowing yourself to slip into former unhealthy thought patterns, habits and routines
  • Failure to implement new life skills, like conflict resolution and stress management
  • Keeping old drug or alcohol paraphernalia in the house
  • Renewing associations with people or places that might trigger substance-use memories

Reversing these missteps can help people deal with setbacks. Other issues related to relapse may include an untreated mental health disorder or leaving treatment too early. In either case, recovering addicts may need additional treatment, possibly at a local outpatient facility.

How to Support Addiction Recovery

In 2011, the American Journal of Public Health published a study that shows relapse rates are 10 times higher for recovering addicts who avoid aftercare support services. Speed bumps can be avoided or weakened when people make use of the following services:

  • Local support groups and recovery sponsors
  • 12-step programs or similar courses of action
  • Inform your family doctor about the addiction struggle and recovery
  • Support networks with recovery partners and loved ones
  • Seek out new interests and activities that boost mental health

Recovery is like learning to walk: most children stumble and fall in the beginning, but, as long as they try again, they will soon walk with greater ease. People in support groups have experienced similar struggles with recovery, so they can help you turn speed bumps into motivation for recovery.

Addiction Relapse Help

Are you or a loved one struggling in recovery? Our admissions coordinators can provide help 24 hours a day, so call our toll-free helpline to discuss local support networks, counselor referrals, relapse warning signs, aftercare services and treatment options. If further treatment is needed, they can also check your health insurance policy for benefits. Please call now for professional care.