Relapses Are Necessary To Break An Addiction
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When you try to break a bad habit such as an addiction to nicotine, to alcohol or to other drugs you will face relapses. Learn how to deal with them differently in order to really overcome your addiction.

Do you remember how you learned things in the past?

Whenever you learn something new, you will make mistakes during the learning process. That is part of the game. When you learned to ride a bicycle, you probably fell off the bike quite often in the beginning. When you prepared for your driver’s license theoretical exam, you probably got many questions incorrect when facing them for the first time. That was normal because you still needed to learn it.

It’s exactly the same when trying to break bad habits

We all have bad habits that we want to give up. Drugs like nicotine, alcohol, casinos or adult movies that we want to live without. Suppose you started quitting your addiction a few days or a few weeks ago. It means that you also learn something new – how to live without smoking, without gambling, without dope, without alcohol, without spending hours in front of your laptop watching adult movies… whatever addiction it is that you want to quit. Therefore, you will obviously make mistakes again.

Expectations are high

These mistakes in recovery are called ‘relapses’. You probably have such high expectations that the world will crash when you will experience your first serious relapse. You will feel like a big loser, a failure, and think, “Now the whole thing will start again. I am just not good enough, that is it, and it was all in vain.” You are right because with this mindset, you will really fail and everything will start again, indeed.

You need to think differently

Instead you should think something like this: “What a pity, this is a relapse. Well, that isn’t nice but – hey – it is also a good opportunity to learn something. After improving so much during the past few days (or weeks), there must be a reason why I relapsed at this moment. I will understand why and move forward. I will better prepare myself for next time.” You did exactly the same when you prepared for your driver’s license exam. You checked the textbook again, found the solution, and when the question showed up again, you knew the answer. Every time that you fell off the bicylce as a boy or a girl and got back on it, you were more experienced than before – that is called learning from your mistakes.

Relapses are part of the healing process

…as gas is part of being able to drive a car. Without relapses you cannot proceed. You’re probably not convinced of this. In reality, you will again put a lot of pressure on yourself. You will possibly feel ashamed and bad when the first relapse happens. You will tell yourself that you always knew that you were weak and a failure, that you are not worth anything and that you did not even succeed in getting away from your drug.

Unrealistic expectations aren’t helpful

Then, the vicious cycle will start again. You will want to kill the guilt and shame by using even more of your drug alcohol, nicotine, poker or whatever it is. You will escape into your old patterns of behavior and it will probably get even worse. Be honest with yourself and let us agree that you will probably display a destructive reaction. Good! If you can agree to it, you can also start preparing for a more healthy way of thinking and behaving in the case of a relapse.

Expect difficulties

Right now, you are excited about trying to break your bad habits, about the progress that you make, and about the insights you gain if you participate in a therapy or if you use a self-help program. You produce a lot of happiness hormones that substitute for the hormones that you previously only got from your drug nicotine, alcohol, poker, adult movies or whatever it was in your case. However, this will weaken over time. Especially after a few weeks relapses will likely happen at some point or another. That is why you need to prepare for mastering those challenging situations.

Anticipate temptations

It will be about understanding in which circumstances you are particularly in danger of relapses – how to avoid those situations, and if they cannot be avoided, how to deal with those temptations. You can practice it and prepare yourself in role-plays. Do you already realize and understand that dealing with this subject is almost the most important element in sustainable healing? You have to pass the master exam, you need to pass this exam with an A – otherwise you will not succeed in the long run. Self-help programs can help you prepare for those challenges.

Author Byline:

I am Frank Lavario, founder and author of the Lavario self help programs against addictions. My colleagues and I have been working a lot with addicts all over the world during. Sometimes we put our experience into short articles.


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