Faulty Beliefs: Treatment and recovery

It is not unusual for someone with addictive disease to work very hard at recovery, and still fail repeatedly.

When this happens, people look for reasons why, and find them, although not all of them are accurate. Some of them are destructive.

When someone sincerely wants to quit using, attends 12-step programs, and seeks counseling, yet goes back to using, there is often an assumption that none of
this stuff can work for them. Over and over, they've tried it and it doesn't work. It's hopeless.

That's not true. Relapse-prone people do recover after reapplying themselves to programs that didn't work for them before, even after several relapses. While there are other programs, other self-help groups, and other therapies that may be tried, the problem isn't necessarily with the program or the individual. One thing that is certain is that giving up won't work.

On the other end of the scale of faulty beliefs is the idea that any particular treatment program is a hundred percent effective for anyone who wants to recover.

Not only is that idea false, but it leads to the assumption that the only cause of relapse is the decision to drop out of treatment. Relapse-prone people who accept this are likely to assume that there is something uniquely wrong with them that makes recovery impossible.

When family members of relapse-prone people accept this, they are likely to blame the relapsed person, as well. When the addiction is associated with crime, as is so often the case, the justice system too often accepts this misconception, as well.

Recovery programs are seldom effective the first time and, in some cases, these programs may be effective for some people but not for others. People in recovery sometimes relapse because they haven't yet attained the necessary skills to recover. However, none of these things mean that they cannot recover, or that they will not recover the next time they try, or the time after that. There is still a lot that isn't known about effective treatments for addiction, and there are many variables that might be in play.

If you are prone to relapse, that does not mean that you cannot recover, or that there is something inherently wrong with you that makes it impossible for you to recover. In most cases, it simply means that you are a typical person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, and that you need to get back on the path to recovery again.

Even if you don't recover on your next try, the chances are good that you will be able to remain in sobriety for a longer period of time. If you keep trying, that period will likely be extended and eventually you will realize that you are indeed a person in recovery, and possibly even a recovered person.

There is no sure cure for addiction, but there are treatments that can lead to a productive life in recovery. For many, recovery from the disease of addiction might be likened to that of diabetes, and a person in recovery can lead a long and healthy life as long as they can recognize and manage the symptoms of addiction while in recovery.


Note: In writing the Faulty Beliefs series, I made some use of the text by Terence T. Gorski and Merlene Miller entitled, Staying Sober: A Guide for Relapse Prevention.