Addiction and the Perils of Relapse

Addiction and Relapse – What to Know

Many addicts relapse before they get sober. Some addicts relapse after long-term sobriety. It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease. It is always there, and we must do all we can to keep it at bay.

Untreated addiction is a progressive disease that continues to get worse every time we use. Clean time does not change this fact. Whether we are clean for thirty days or thirty years, our addiction waits on the sidelines, ready to wreak havoc on our lives again. Therefore, it is critically important for us to seek help as soon as we relapse or have thoughts of relapse.

Breakthrough Recovery Outreach offers an Aftercare Program to all clients to prevent relapse. The classes teach about the warning signs that occur before relapse. They teach us the hard truth: that relapse can result in death, jail, or dire consequences – such as homelessness and disease.

Relapsing back into addiction doesn’t usually just happen overnight. Often, we have thoughts about drinking or using before we start using again. Recognizing these thoughts gives us the time to go to a meeting or call someone before we use. If and when we think about using, sharing about it and talking about it helps. There are times we all need to be reminded of what waits for us if we relapse.

It’s easy to romanticize how we felt when we first drank or used. However, when we share those thoughts, we allow ourselves to hear the consequences of what REALLY happens when we relapse. We lose our job, friends, family, freedom, health, and even our lives. When we share our thoughts of using before we relapse, we guard ourselves against it. As Chris Jacobs, CEO of Breakthrough Recovery Outreach, says, we must “tell on our disease.” Doing so helps it lose its stronghold and gives us the chance to step back and remember why we so cherish sobriety.

A Relapse into Addiction May Have Dire Health Consequences

When I got sober, I was taught about the dangers of acquiring diseases of the liver diseases, like hepatitis and cirrhosis. I learned about contracting HIV by sharing needles and about heart problems that can be caused by using methamphetamine and cocaine. But now, we must add the danger of contracting COVID-19 to that list.

Of course, COVID-19 isn’t a direct consequence of addiction. Everyone is susceptible to it. Still, as alcoholics and addicts, we take more risks during active addiction. We must ask ourselves if we would wear a mask before getting our next drink or drug? When I got sober, I didn’t have to consider the unfathomable consequence of losing a family member to a virus because I thoughtlessly went to a large party or was on the streets without a mask and came home to pass out. That is a new potential consequence for people currently in active addiction. It’s as bad as driving drunk and hurting or killing someone. It’s a bottom none of us wants to hit.

There is No Shame in Admitting to Relapse or Talking about Wanting to Use

It’s ok to have thoughts of using and drinking. Those thoughts are normal for alcoholics and addicts. We all have them. Sharing our feelings about them with another addict or alcoholic is so important. Sharing lets the shame of the secret out and allows the light in. Talking about our feelings or dreams of using is a critical tool in combatting our disease.

If we relapse, we must reach out to a sponsor or our residential treatment facility right away. Many of us relapse before we get sober. But, we don’t have to but rock bottom before we reach out for help. If we take one step down and ask for help, it’s far easier to take one step up than to have to scale the ladder from the very bottom to the top again.

Be honest with yourself about thoughts of relapse. If you find yourself on a slippery slope that you know is leading you towards a drink or a drug, don’t be embarrassed to talk about it. Thoughts of going back to drinking or using happen to all of us. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous were created to help us prevent relapse and offer us a safe haven if relapse does occur.

Don’t Let a Relapse into Addiction Show You a New Bottom

Please don’t wait until you hit another bottom to ask for help. There are too many stories of addicts and alcoholics who let pride keep them from seeking help.

For most of us, every bottom gets worse. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you need help, reach out and the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and Breakthrough Recovery Outreach will be there to meet you and welcome you back every time.

Together, we can heal and thrive. 



If you need help, please reach out to us. We will help you until you can help yourself. Call us at 777-493-7750 or fill out the Contact Form below.


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