With today’s world of short wait-times and drive-by services, it’s not uncommon for someone entering addiction treatment to be seeking a cure rather than a healing process. Addiction, whether drugs or alcohol, has long-terms effect on the body and mind; effects that can persist long after drug use ends. For this reason, addiction recovery and …
Addiction Recovery and Relapse: Why It’s Important to Try Again
With today’s world of short wait-times and drive-by services, it’s not uncommon for someone entering addiction treatment to be seeking a cure rather than a healing process. Addiction, whether drugs or alcohol, has long-terms effect on the body and mind; effects that can persist long after drug use ends. For this reason, addiction recovery and relapse tend to go hand-in-hand as relapse episodes ultimately become part of the overall addiction recovery process.
Anyone who’s experienced relapse well knows how discouraging and frustrating it can be considering all the work he or she has put into getting well. Giving up at this point can definitely cause more harm than good in more ways than one. In effect, “trying again” becomes part of the addiction recovery process no matter how many times a person finds him or herself at this point.
Addiction causes physical changes in how the brain and body function. By the time a person enters recovery, the effects of drug abuse have become a “normal” part of the body’s overall chemical and functional makeup.
According to the Journal of European Psychopharmacology, addiction is classified as a chronic relapsing disease that operates in much the same way as any other chronic medical condition, such as diabetes or asthma. Chronic conditions, in any form, require long-term maintenance and management as the physical changes that result essentially “rewire” how the body and mind work.
Much of the difficulty and challenges encountered in addiction recovery have to do with the psychological aftereffects of drugs on a person’s mind. In essence, addiction develops out of damage done to the brain’s reward system. This area of the brain defines a person’s priorities, motivations and daily outlook based on positive reinforcing experiences had from day to day.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, positive experiences trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, the primary neurotransmitter involved in brain reward system functions. Addictive substances, like drugs and alcohol, also stimulate dopamine production in the brain, which accounts for the drastic change in priorities addiction causes in a person’s life.
With addiction recovery and relapse, a person fights an ongoing battle between drug-based reward system norms and rules versus recovery-based norms and rules. Ultimately, the day-to-day process of “living” drug-free becomes the only means for erasing addiction-based programming from the brain reward system’s records.
As disheartening as relapse episodes can be, they nonetheless offer valuable information in terms of what works and what doesn’t work in your addiction recovery process. More often than not, the seeds of relapse take root within a person’s thinking patterns and behaviors, long before the actual relapse event occurs. Understanding how and why this change in mindset occurred can go a long way towards avoiding relapse in the future.
Drug Treatment Considerations
Oftentimes, addiction recovery requires a person to engage in some form of ongoing treatment for months or even years after drug use ends. Whether it be individual psychotherapy, group therapy or support group work, staying engaged in the addiction recovery process offers the only means for getting comfortable with a drug-free lifestyle.
If you or someone you know struggles with addiction recovery and relapse and have questions about recovery treatment options, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at (800) 407-7195 for more information. Our addictions specialists can also help connect you with treatment services in your area.