23 ,Sep, 2019

Relapse in a high number of cases is preceded by the client moving away from their post residential treatment after care plan.

Yes the recovery plan has to be one the client buys into and is committed to but given their commitment to the plan, why do clients stray from their plan?

There is no one single reason however the following are some of the things I encounter when talking to people who have relapsed.

Feeling well physically can happen very quickly and this often leads to the thought process, “I have this under control and I have overcome my problem with alcohol/drugs.” Often it’s more of a subconscious happening, however the outcome of this happening is the person starts to believe they are OK and they start veering away from their recovery plan.

If abstinence is central to their recovery plan and Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are included in their plan, feeling well physically for the first time in a long time can lead to a dropping off in attending meetings of AA or NA. They feel they don’t need as many meetings as is set out in their plan. Work starts to take priority over attending meetings and from here it is a short slippery slope to picking up or using again.

Another reason I often hear from those whose plan is to attend AA /NA is, “I am not getting anything out of the meetings anymore. All I hear is the same old story night after night.”

I am a devoted fan of AA and NA, however, I have grave reservations with the approach these fellowships are a one size fits all approach. They are not. Indeed, I often say AA and NA is like a recovery supermarket. There are aisles and shelves full of all sorts of help and tools. You need to pick which aisle you are shopping in when you attend meetings.

For instance if you are religious then shop in the aisle marked religion. If you like speaker ID meetings shop in that aisle. For others it might be attending Big Book study meetings or Steps meetings.

It is my belief people attend meetings to stay connected to their recovery. As soon as they start to drop off meetings their connection to recovery becomes frayed and this can lead to stopping meetings and for many this is the beginning of the relapse.

When I am advising clients about their recovery plan my number one comment is “take your hands off the steering wheel.” You have plan so follow it, let the plan steer you. Your role is to follow the plan not change it. If you want to change your plan then talk to your counsellor or whoever you created the plan with and discuss what you are feeling and why you want to change the plan.

For those in recovery there is a saying I stand by,

“To know where you are heading you should never forget where you have come from”