From the desk of Rudy L. Troyer, LCSW
“Relapse is part of the recovery process.” This statement is perhaps my biggest pet peeve within the addiction treatment community. It is also a very dangerous view of recovery that implicitly “gives permission,” or at the very least, justification for, relapse. If we tell our patients that they are doomed to fail, what’s the point of them or their families spending thousands of dollars for treatment? Shouldn’t we encourage those suffering addiction that there is hope? That you never have to use or drink again? That you have been given an opportunity to have a new life?
I know many individuals who have been recovered for years without a single relapse. I also know, and have worked with, many who have relapsed. This article is by no means a dig at them. Sometimes, a relapse can become an eye-opening experience for someone who was not fully bought into recovery, and solidify their motivation to fully recover. Other times, unfortunately, it is a fast track to suicide, overdose, or prison.
Shaming patients about their relapse does not work. Loving them through their relapse and having healthy boundaries around their addiction does work. In other words: “I will never tell you it’s okay to relapse, way too many people die or end up in prison. However, it’s not the end of the world, and recovery can still work for you if you want it bad enough.” “It’s time to get into action.”
At The Recovery Center of Baton Rouge, we work diligently with our patients to prevent relapse, and to help them develop meaningful and long term recovery. I fully believe, and have witnessed firsthand, that if a person experiences the true joy, freedom, and comradery that is so easily found in recovery, they will never want to go back to the bondage and pain of their addictions. Recovery is possible and treatment does work!
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