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The disease of addiction is a growing epidemic in this country and around the world. Record numbers of opioid deaths have been recorded the past 2 years. Fentanyl is pouring into the country like never before. And it is not just opioids. Drug and alcohol use have increased further during the Covid pandemic. For those addicted, the supply is readily available, easily accessible, and many go to treatment only to relapse shortly after.

It is not at all uncommon for suffering addicts to have been to a great number of addiction detoxes, treatment/rehab centers, 12 step programs, and other types of recovery programs and fail to get clean and sober. These people invariably ask themselves and others, “How many times to I need to go to treatment before I get better? Will I ever get better?”

The short answer to this question is it depends. Successful recovery is directly proportional to the effort the suffering addict is willing to put into getting well. Many have been through addiction treatment, had thought they had given it their all, only to relapse again shortly after leaving treatment. Often, we find the person did not give the treatment 100% effort. Something, an issue, or some event creating irritation, anger, shame, remorse, or guilt was not disclosed and dealt with in a manner that it should have been.

Successful recovery involves a number of paradoxes that you may have heard of before. For example, one must surrender to win. To most people inside and outside of recovery, this question is baffling. How is it that someone can win by surrendering? With addiction, it is just that way. The suffering addict must admit that a) they have a problem, b) they cannot solve the problem themselves, and c) if they do not change, they are going to suffer ever worsening crises up to and including death. Admitting to these things is surrendering – giving up on the constant battle that is active addiction for something different, something far better.

There are some people, though far too few, who go through addiction treatment once, stay clean and sober permanently while having happy and productive lives. How did they do it? If you ask them what they most often will tell you is that they completely surrendered, did exactly what they were asked to do, and do the things that they learned through the recovery process every single day of their lives. The reality is most suffering addicts would have a similar experience if they were able to follow this path. That said, addiction is one of the most powerful and lethal disease on the planet. The compulsion to use while in active addiction and early recovery is almost indescribable. Unfortunately, many suffering addicts seemingly need to be beaten into submission by their disease where the consequences finally outweigh the compulsion to use.

While we certainly do not encourage relapsing, relapse is not something to be ashamed of. Most people who have the disease of addiction relapse. This is a simple fact. The most important thing is that the person “get back on the horse” as quickly as possible and get into a recovery process again, as soon as possible. The person does not lose what they relearned in the recovery process prior to relapsing. In fact, many who have relapsed stop shortly afterward as result of knowing the information they learned in recovery prior.

While most suffering addicts want their first recovery process experience to be their last, it simply is not the case in most instances. With addiction, the most important thing is this – never give up! And remember, successful recovery is directly proportional to the effort the suffering addict puts into it. With 100% effort, the next treatment center can be the last treatment center!

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