Men and women don’t need to be sentenced to their addiction for the rest of their lives. Although it might feel like a prison, time in the small cell that addiction creates doesn’t have to be long-term. Once you find sober living help, once you make the decision to get sober, there are specific ways to get sober and stay that way.
If you found yourself addicted to alcohol or drugs and found treatment that initiated living sober, you might have either maintained your sobriety or you might have relapsed back into the cycle of addiction.
There are some specific contributing factors that play a large role in whether a person relapses or not. But first, it’s important to know that an addiction can have a strong biological and psychological pull. Some might think that it’s an easy task to end their addiction. Yet, the experience of relapse might reveal that it is in fact a daunting challenge.
For instance, the slightest trigger and craving for the drug can occur almost without notice. Even if a person has made the decision to end their drinking or drug use, it’s easy for a small stimuli to trigger an intense craving. Stress from work, relationship concerns with spouses, family issues, environmental cues, running into old drinking or drugging friends can create an strong desire to use. Of course, having these kinds of triggers, whether in or out of a sober living treatment facility can lead to chronic relapse and continued substance abuse.
Plus, a trigger that leads to additional drug use or drinking only strengthens the addiction and weakens the ability to stop. And that’s the definition and the main challenge with addiction – behaving compulsively. The activation of the brain’s reward system is the key to drug abuse problems. Once the cycle of addiction activates the internal reward system, a rush in the brain, that behavior can become the sole focus of one’s life to the exclusion and detriment of other life-activities.
In order for treatment of an addiction to be successful, it has to address the various factors in a person’s life that may be contributing to the continued use of alcohol or drugs. In addition to the severity of the addiction, the drug of choice, the presence of any physical conditions, the following predisposing factors can place a person at risk for relapse.
- Learning disabilities.
- Concurrent mental illness.
- High stress.
- Inadequate coping skills.
- Lack of support at home or school.
- Dysfunctional family.
- Lack of impulse control.
At the same time, in addition to these factors, there might be circumstantial factors, such as an unresolved trauma or past experiences including:
- A divorce.
- Loss of employment.
- Death of a close friend or relative.
- Inability to find employment.
Along these lines, those who chronically relapse might continue to face the same difficult circumstances, which mirror the reasons that got them, drinking in the first place. Added to this, they may not have the skills to cope with difficult emotions that arise from the “failure” of relapsing and, in turn, lead to more drinking or drug use. There might be an existing mental illness; there could be an undiagnosed medical concern; or there might be peers, friends, or family members around them who are still using.
One critical factor that might keep someone inside the prison of addiction is his or her own ambivalence. Although you might have made the choice to enter sober living treatment, there’s a lingering need and desire to use. Why not?, you might think to yourself. It feels good. It brought a relief from emotional pain, a dramatic increase in energy, and a euphoric feeling for life.
Yet, as long as you’re thinking along those lines, then the possibility to give into a craving can occur. If, on the other hand, you commit to sober living no matter what, and if you address the factors that keep you drinking… and if you really, really want it, then finally, perhaps the drinking–sober living–relapsing cycle might come to an end.
If you are reading this on any blog other than Transcend Recovery Community or via my RSS Feed, it is stolen content without credit. You can find me on Twitter via @RecoveryRobert Come and visit our blog at http://TranscendRecoveryCommunity.com/blog