Is Relapse Inevitable in Addiction Recovery?
Julie Myers, Psy.D.
For many with serious substance abuse problems, any drug or alcohol use can be problematic. These people must abstain. If they drink or drug again, they can slip into full-blown relapse, even after months or years of abstinence. For some, even a brief lapse may generate so much self-doubt, guilt, and a belief about personal failure, that the person gives up and continues to use. This tendency is referred to as the abstinence violation effect.
So does this mean that even a brief lapse must lead to a full-blown relapse? Does it mean a person must continue to drink or drug until the use returns to the initial level? Is spiraling out of control inevitable? Simply put, no. A lapse need not become a relapse. After a slip, you have not unlearned all that you have learned. You have not unchanged all that you have changed in your life to support your recovery. You do not have to start counting again from day one. Continue reading