Thursday, August 16, 2012

Relapse is Worse in Longterm Recovery

I just love Renew Magazine—it’s all about recovery, treatment options, recovering people, with many surprising angles and approaches to recovery.

This week I read a piece in Renew by Tracey Dee Raub about relapse and it literally made me sit up and slow down. In the first paragraph she says the 90% of recovering people will have at least one relapse in the first four years. That’s scary. And maybe—here in Out of the Woods land—it’s just scary for folks we know…but here is what is scary for those of us with 10 or more years: “Those who move into long-term sobriety have this daunting reality to heed: People with more recovery time are less likely to return to a program of recovery after a relapse than those who are new to recovery.”

Ok—that is daunting. If we relapse we don’t go back…we suffer, struggle and die or even worse, don’t die—just live miserable lives again.

I do not want that Sam I Am. No I don’t.  

The article goes on to describe why people relapse: S.L.I.P.-- Sobriety Lost Its Priority. Raub did some great homework for this piece. She has powerful statistics on relapse. She quotes Deni Carise from Phoenix House who says that, “The predictors of relapse in substance abuse, diabetes, asthma and hypertension are all the same. With all of them, if you don’t take the medicine and you don’t follow professional guidance, you will relapse. The top relapse predictors are the same in all four chronic illnesses. And the more sobriety you have the less likely it is that you will survive a relapse.

Remember that AA quote that says, while you are sitting in the meeting your addiction is over in the corner doing pushups? Turns out it’s true and statistically valid.

So I am bookmarking this article to re-read every month. I haven’t thought of my addictions as illnesses in a long time but I’m back, and I want to stay back. Looking at the relapse stats for folks with longtime recovery has given me pause. 

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