Relapse is a difficult part of recovery. It is a part of recovery but it does not have to be a part of recovery. Some say that relapse is part of the story. Not everyone relapses. If you are struggling with a drug addiction or alcoholism problem and are considering treatment know that you don’t have to relapse to stay sober forever. You just have to take things one day at a time.
Understanding relapse is difficult for anyone on the outside of chemical dependency. Acting on impulse in spite of negative consequences is a characteristic of addiction. Drugs and alcohol overtake the brain in a very severe way. Many attribute the craving and desire for using to pleasure. Pleasure is only a small part of what really happened in the brain when the impulse to use arises. The pleasure which is derived from drugs and alcohol comes from the overproduction of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine communicates feelings of pleasure to the reward center of the brain. From there, the substances causing pleasure are committed to memory. The memory channels feed into an area of the brain called the midbrain. Survival necessities like eating, sleep, and reproducing live in the midbrain. Overtime, the messages of pleasure and reward stored to memory inundate the midbrain. To say a relapse is born out of a need for pleasure is not to give the intricacy of addiction it’s fair due. Relapse is born out of a need to survive pain.
Treatment and recovery can be painful. Dealing with emotions, confronting trauma, and living life each day without euphoria inducing substances can be hard. After a brain has become chemically dependent upon drugs or alcohol for providing pleasure, it is difficult to live without it. The brain has learned how to live off of drugs and alcohol. Problematically, it has learned to source all of its pleasurable sensations from it. The brain struggles to produce its own dopamine without the presence of drugs and alcohol. Essentially, when the brain feels a need for pleasure, and cannot create any on its own, it craves drugs and alcohol. When those cravings don’t get met, the brain becomes obsessive, causing more tension, stress, and chaos in the mind to which the only answer seems to be: drink or use, as soon as possible.
It is true, people relapse because they want to get drunk or high. However, why it is they want to get drunk or high is more of the point. Relapse isn’t an episode , it’s a process.
Avalon By The Sea continuously evaluates and checks in with patients to gauge their recovery beyond the scope of clinical judgment. Your life is important to use. We know how precious this opportunity is to live it. For a private consultation or more information on our residential treatment programs, call 1 888-958-7511.