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Why Do I Continue To Relapse?
Why do I continue to Relapse?
For years I struggled with relapse. Hospitals and jails were common occurrence for me. I would tell myself “I really am going to stop this time. I MEAN IT.” Despite my firm resolutions, I would find myself in yet another relapse and experiencing an even darker bottom.
It was like each time I relapsed the drugs sunk their claws into me even deeper. It kept getting harder and harder to even put a few hours together much less any resemblance of long-term recovery.
Then at age 24, a miracle occurred, and I was rescued by the sheriff’s office and given 10 months in a long-term substance abuse treatment program. I haven’t experienced relapse since I completed that program. My life completely changed. The obsession to use was lifted and I found freedom. Life is beautiful and I’ve been able to pursue my dreams of becoming a Social Worker and counseling others who suffer from substance use disorder.
Since then, I have seen so many people who are going through the same struggles I did and can’t seem to stay sober. They continue to relapse over and over and can’t understand why. I remember feeling the same way. Today I know why that happens and I want to share it with my fellow “chronic-relapsers”.
Here’s the deal, your brain is wired for relapse in the first 90 days of recovery.
Unfortunately, the way drugs effect the brain causes you to be extremely vulnerable to cravings in the first months of recovery. To put it very simply, the brain is damaged.
The pleasure center of your brain has become used to receiving unnatural amounts of dopamine. This causes intense cravings for the substance you know will give you that reward. This part of your brain is connected to your memory which reinforces this is something pleasurable and it only recalls the first few moments of euphoria you experienced. This causes you to forget the pain, consequences and suffering of your use, leading to thoughts like “It will be different this time” or “I just need it to feel better”.
While this is happening, the ability to make good decisions is impaired due to your pre-frontal cortex not functioning at full capacity. Leading to impulsive decision making and giving into cravings. Once relapse occurs you start the process all over again and it becomes harder and harder to find sobriety.
Now, this may sound like the odds are stacked against you, but that’s not true. Relapse does not have to be part of your story any longer. With the help of skilled and competent professionals, accountability, community, copings skills, and 12 step programs you can overcome the difficult first weeks and months of recovery.
Many people with substance use disorder find they can learn to manage their cravings early on with the help of treatment and implementing the coping skills they learn while in these programs.
This was my story. Substance Abuse Treatment saved my life. I learned the skills I need to have a high quality of life and was introduced to recovery communities which became my support network and in the end my family.
Relapse happens but it does not have to be part of your story. Get help and allow yourself the opportunity to have a life worth living.
If you’re ready to get help contact us.
We can help you find long term recovery.