Addiction relapse is a part of recovery, and it doesn’t matter if you have one day sober or 30 years. In a recent interview with WNYC, popular actor Jeff Daniels, known for his roles in Dumb and Dumber and The Martian, opened up about his relapse after years of sobriety and is shedding light on an issue few people understand.
Addiction Relapse Can Happen To Anyone, Anytime
If you have been to Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, you have heard the phrase “Just For Today”. What that means is that just for this day we will focus on our sobriety, we will focus on staying away from our drug of choice, we will focus on our higher power and putting our best foot forward. Because, in truth, today is all we have.
An addict or alcoholic who has ten sober years is just as close to a person with one day in the sense that they both can reach for a drink or drug at any given moment. That is why stringing together days and living in the present is the most we can do to maintain our sobriety. Looking too far in the future will be overwhelming, and celebrating lengthy sobriety to the extreme may cause our guard to go down and the walls to come crashing down.
How Common is Relapse?
In recovery, relapse happens left and right. In the first year of recovery, more than half of people will relapse. The number becomes more promising after that – with 66% maintaining sobriety after they hit the year mark, and it jumps to 86% after 5 or more years. That being said, relapse is circumstantial and personal, and nothing concrete can predict or prevent relapse, besides having a strong support system and the desire to stay sober.
Addiction relapse can be heartbreaking for friends and family to watch. It’s the last thing we want for those close to us, especially after seeing how far they have come. It is important to support the person and do what you can to encourage them to get help, ideally before the relapse occurs.
How to Handle a Relapse
If you have relapsed, the important thing is not to get into a huge downward spiral because of it. This is a time to learn from your mistakes, gather yourself up, and move forward. First of all, remove yourself from any situation or people that contributed to your relapse. Make sure to get rid of any alcohol or drug paraphernalia you might have lying around, and if needed, seek a medical detox center to help you recover back into being clean.
If a loved one has relapsed, encourage them to get help before the situation escalated. As heartbreaking as it may be, try not to be terribly outwardly angry with them, because chances are they are feeling very low, and this kind of “attack” may make them use or drink even more.
We only have today. So, let go of your mistakes from yesterday, and forget about tomorrow. Focus on being sober, happy, and positive – just for today.