Saturday, October 29, 2011

Relapse is part of the disease

Last night I posted the link to my blog in a new Facebook group I belong to called "The Addict's Dad." One of the members there commented on my post, saying that he likes my blog but disagreed with my statement that "Relapse is part of recovery." He said that relapse "is part of the disease; it has nothing to do with recovery."

I thought about that comment for a long time, did some research online, and have to say that I now agree with that commenter. Relapse is a part of active addiction; not a part of recovery. The addict makes a conscious choice to use again. But that doesn't necessarily mean that relapse is a horrible thing.

"Relapse should not be viewed as a failure; it is part of a learning process that eventually leads to recovery." That quote is from Susan Merle Gordon, a Ph.D. and author of "Relapse & Recovery: Behavioral Strategies for Change," a research report by the Caron Foundation, one of the nation's oldest and largest addiction treatment centers. It appears in an online article that also goes on to say: "The potential for relapse is part of the chronic disease."

I'd like to thank the commenter on Facebook for making me reflect on my earlier statement and do some research. I appreciate the education. One thing's for sure: As the parent of an addict, you're always learning.

By the way, after talking to the woman who runs my son's sober living house last night, it appears that my son did indeed smoke the herbal incense he bought. I kind of figured that was what happened, but so be it. The woman said my son was very honest--with her, at least--about what he had done, and was very upset about having done it. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road to recovery. My wife and I will pray that that's the case.

The consequences of my son having relapsed are two fold. He has to leave his current sober living house for three days. He will move to a different sober living house during that time period, and will be monitored closely. He also can't participate in his IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) for those three days. If he stays clean for three days, he can then move back into his original sober living house.

Addiction. It's always an adventure.


  1. I'm so glad you wrote about this. I've been thinking a lot about that statement as well, along with a few others that convey a negative message into the mind of an addict. I believe that what we input into our minds affects us deeply at a subconscious (or conscious) level. So telling an addict its part of recovery makes it seem "okay" and expected. Telling them its part of the disease puts it in its place.

  2. it is great that we all learn from eachother... that is a gift

    keep writing! your wisdom should be shared