October 27, 2016
For addicts, relapse is as terrifying as a real life monster
As children, monsters lived under beds and in closets. They magically disappeared when the lights came on. Now that you’re an adult, you know that monsters are no longer content to hold such childish and passive places in your life. Specifically for addicts, the monsters have grown far darker and more dangerous.
Relapse is a terrifying creature that lurks in the shadows of everyday life, waiting for its victims to stumble or show weakness. It’s a crafty and treacherous beast, stalking from behind the guise of old friends and familiar places. The inescapable fact of addiction is that a person carries his monsters with him wherever he goes for the rest of his life. And it makes no difference if the lights are on or off. The threat of relapse is a constant menace to be feared and diligently guarded against.
Hiding in Plain Sight
Sometimes, when you’re doing your best, relapse hits you the hardest. This is because it’s capable of catching you completely off your guard. Even the smallest slip has the power to strip you of all the things you’ve worked so hard to gain. It can send you spiraling out of control before you know it.
Sadly, it’s a common response and can even happen to people well established in a recovery program. When situations and emotions become overwhelming, it’s easy to return to what’s comfortable and easy. For many people, the chaos of addiction and the associated escapism it offers are a disastrous temptation.
As you continue to grow in your recovery, it’s sometimes possible to believe you’re cured. This is a dangerous misconception that can lead you away from the safety you’ve worked to establish through your support systems. It’s easy to mistake hard-won successes for lasting sobriety.
When this happens, it’s easy to lull yourself into a false complacency that leans too hard on self-reliance. Addiction is an ongoing part of your nature and if for any reason it’s able to isolate you from the positive people and places in your life, relapse seizes the opportunity to strike.
Every addict has triggers — the things that can cause you to feel justified for using. Triggers can range from stressful situations to certain people in your life. Whether it’s in anger or avoidance, these things that make you crave drugs or unhealthy behaviors are the snares of relapse. Having spent years developing these conditioned responses to the triggers makes them harder to recognize and more dangerous to your recovery.
(Our Willow Recovery Home)
Safe Harbor from the Demons
Especially in the beginning of recovery, when the demons of addiction and the monsters of relapse are at their freshest and most familiar, it’s important to understand the value of safe and positive environments. Recovery houses like Willow House facilitate recovery by surrounding you with supportive, understanding peers.
These peers know the dangers you face, and they’re generally sympathetic through your struggles. While they can sometimes slay the monsters, they can also hold you accountable. It can be difficult to see yourself begin to falter and lean in the wrong direction. When you have a community that knows and cares enough to call you on your actions, you can avoid the pitfalls of relapse and the very real monsters that live there.