Serial Relapsers

Serial Relapsers

Serial Relapsers; falling back into active addiction known as serial relapsing is unfortunately all too common these days! Addiction is a fairly complex yet treatable illness that can be ‘arrested’ allowing the client to function in a more desirable way. All too often, clients relapse into ‘old’ patterns and behaviours and in time, sometimes very quickly reignite their addiction and chaos reigns once again!

Why Do The Wheels Keep Falling Off?

Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical and a lot of clients leave treatment far too early. In simple terms, why do you think that primary, extended primary, secondary, tertiary and halfway houses levels exist. Addiction cannot be addressed quickly even though many clients expect it to be quick because they have been existing in a ‘quick fix culture’, often for many years.

Twin Rivers Rehab appreciates that some clients cannot afford more than 28 days in residential treatment. If client only experiences 28 days then the client must follow a structured aftercare plan otherwise the client will fail in their recovery process! Aftercare plans are compiled at Twin Rivers for ‘all’ clients regardless of length of time in treatment. We also have an ‘After Care’ program in Birmingham that offers support to UK clients.

Residential treatment is very much about ‘discovery’ and post residential treatment is when ‘recovery’ really starts. It is essential for all clients to attend recovery meetings such as AA, get a fellowship sponsor, see a therapist and follow a structured daily plan that includes exercise, voluntary work, proper food, perhaps study a vocational course or even get a paid job. Early recovery is a essentially a full time job in itself if it is being carried out properly; occasional fellowship meetings and extensive hours sitting in a coffee shop gossiping is not part of the recovery process.

Serial Relapsers Know Best!

Clients are often too impatient and want to prove to the world what the world has been missing. Realistically the world is not that interested in your recovery and so we are also up against our own expectations which are often too high and totally unrealistic. Easy does it, is the best plan-one day at a time as opposed to quickly does it my way and be famous! The world has no shortage of grave stones with these words carved out on them ‘I KNEW BEST’. Recovery is not a race and it’s definitely not a competition. It is a ‘process’ that has no time period attached to it and offers no immediate guarantees.

  1. Get Rid of Any Ambivalence

Are you still holding onto the hope that you can one day drink or use drugs safely? If the answer to this question is ‘yes’, it means you are not going to be able to fully commit to recovery and may partially explain why you are finding it so hard to stay stopped. In order to move forward to a better way of living we must gradually let go of  old thinking and behaviours.

  1. Decide to Do Whatever it Takes

If sober living is important enough to you, it should mean you are willing to do whatever it takes to make it a reality. A common problem with chronic serial relapsers is serial relapsers enter a treatment centre with a list of preconditions and things they are not willing to try or accept. Some serial relapsers can spend their whole time in rehab planning their next manipulative maneuver so as they do not have to take responsibility of any kind. An example of this could be someone complying and going through the motions in treatment whilst actually waiting to get their hands on the family trust fund! In order to break free of addiction, there are likely going to be things you need to do that you initially feel resistant to – an attitude of willingness rather than indifference will mean you won’t be put off by these challenges.

  1. Take Responsibility for Your Own Recovery

It is always going to be possible to find something to blame when stuff goes wrong in your life. If you relapse following rehab, you can easily blame it on the rehab not doing their job, other clients or the feeling that friends and family didn’t give you enough support once you went home (High Expectation). The reality is that the only person who is responsible for your recovery is you and that the best that other people can do is provide you with encouragement, advice, and the right resources if you ask.

  1. Make the Most Out of Your Time at Twin Rivers Rehab

Your time in rehab is sure to pass quickly, and there is a lot of important stuff you need to learn and new skills you need to pick up. It is possible to just comply and coast-along in a treatment programme and only do the bare minimum, but it is you that is going to lose out if you approach treatment this way. Make the best use of this precious time, so you can build a strong foundation for your recovery.

  1. Try Something New; Be Honest with Your Counsellor/Therapist

You have probably heard the wise saying – you are only as sick as your secrets! You need to keep this in mind when you go to rehab because it is the stuff you are not prepared to talk about that is going to get in the way of your personal progress. Don’t let fear and shame hold you back; by being honest, you can set yourself free and become more appreciative and productive.

David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process