According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the transtheoretical model of change, “for most people with substance abuse problems, recurrence of substance use is the rule not the exception” (Enhancing Motivation for Change, 1999, p. xvii). Relapse can and most likely will occur in recovery, and should be recognized as well as anticipated by substance abuse recovery counselors. The significant challenges to counselors are bringing a client successfully and securely through a relapse and eventually preventing relapse from occurring at all. For many, helping a client find faith in a higher power is an essential piece of the puzzle for overcoming addiction.
In research collaborated by Laudet, Morgan and White, there are three stages of recovery for those with the disease of addiction: early recovery, middle recovery and late recovery (2006, p. 36). In early recovery, staying clean is the main focus. Every day thoughts revolve around simply making it through the day without using. This stage, lasting one to three years, can be the most difficult, and is most likely the area when relapse is most frequent as clients find it easier to simply use than to fight the urge.
The second stage that occurs in regaining sobriety is middle recovery. Here, a client may be asking themselves “what do I do now?” It is common for a client to come to seek recovery after hitting rock bottom. This rapid decline often entails homelessness, unemployment, estrangement from family and friends as well as health concerns; very overwhelming realities that may weigh heavy on a client’s mind, and may be more of a burden than can be held.. Here again is an area that counselors should be aware of relapse. Clients may falter in this stage, as the realization of rebuilding a life from the bottom up can be overpowering. Searching for a home and a job is daunting, ridding oneself of guilt and shame to become capable to approach loved ones is trying, and facing difficult health issues often brought about by their own substance abuse is frightening. These situations trigger great quantities of stress, a common prompt for substance abuse and relapse.
The third and final stage of recovery is known as late recovery, and involves a client finding growth and meaning in life. In this stage, relapse may be less frequent as a sense of purpose is found. As this stage is found only by enduring great challenges, a client may not be as tempted by relapse and the act of back tracking in their recovery may seem tiresome and unworthy of their time. However, though a deep awareness of the consequences of substance abuse is profound, relapse is still possible if an addict forgets that he or she has a disease that is incurable and succumbs to the enticement of “just this one time can’t hurt” or has the thought that “I have been clean for so long. I am cured.” Bill W. stated in his book Alcoholics Anonymous that “This is the baffling feature of alcoholism...