Relapse in drug addiction–why it happens, how to deal with it
Experts from the international medical community have agreed that drug addiction is a health issue, hence, its description as “substance use disorder.”
If getting hooked on drugs is a medical condition, then there is also such a thing as relapse—or getting sick again after a period of improvement.
In this interview, Jun Tan and Joey Ibañez, cofounders of rehab facility TCI Village, and Philip Dizon, program staff member, recall their personal experiences in dealing with relapse.
How many times did you suffer from relapse before finally kicking the drug habit?
Jun Tan (JT): I relapsed twice. When I accepted I was an addict and became aware of my addictive behavior, I got serious with my recovery. I realized I should be grateful for the gift of life and family.
Joey Ibañez (JI): Addiction is a chronic brain disease characterized by problematic use of mind-altering substances with negative consequences. Some say relapse is part of the recovery process, but it does not have to be. You never kick the habit of addiction out of your life, you just get better by managing it. Addiction is a lifelong disease and there is no magic pill for it. You just need to know how to tame it for the most part. On Sept. 19, I will be five years sober.
Philip Dizon (PD): I relapsed five times. My previous program gave me tools to avoid it, but my ego got in the way. I though I could handle anything. So I set off on my own and forgot everything in the program. This was wrong because I soon found myself on the losing end.
What caused your relapse?
JT: I relapsed because I was not committed to protect my sobriety. I became complacent and overconfident. I did not put boundaries in my lifestyle.
JI: It’s really very easy to relapse by treating it is a comfort zone. It is pleasurable. The weak succumb to it. I relapsed because my desire to quit did not have the energy required to sustain sobriety. I entertained the idea that I could still use drugs. Any reservation is bad for the struggle.
PD: My relapse was caused by my arrogance.
How did you actually overcome or deal with relapse?
JT: I made efforts and sacrifices to attend support group meetings. I went back to the first facility I entered to give back and encourage younger residents to strengthen their will. I did part-time work in the facility. I worked hard to discipline myself and change my lifestyle. I stopped smoking, exercised, played basketball and organized physical activities like running and biking with recovery support groups. Addiction is a chronic disease which is said to have no cure. But I made a choice and made no room for excuses. I am now 18 years sober!
JI: Addiction creates a lot of family issues. Resolution is key. I made a firm decision to quit the habit and committed to it. I embraced my family as a motivation to stop using drugs. I put to good use the program I learned from rehab.
PD: Overcoming is not the proper term. I’m still clawing my way back to a normal life. It’s frustrating because I didn’t have to be in this situation at all. I’ve been embracing the program again. I feel that I’m starting to regain my dignity, but I still have a long way to go.
What advice can you give TCI residents on how to deal with relapse?
JT: To be aware is to be alive. Make efforts to attend support group meetings, have a productive lifestyle, stay away from people with a negative attitude. Be grateful to God and to your families. Take it one day at a time!
JI: Man up. Don’t let it get worse. Go back to the facility. We have a Graduates Hall where you can stay for free. Let your brothers and sisters there help you manage your slip. Let us guide you back on your feet. The secret to change is to focus all your energies not on fighting the old, but on developing the new.
PD: Make it your battle plan to always stay connected. When we complete the program, we always feel that we are ready for anything. That feeling is only delusion. We are addicts. We need a proper support group that will be with us in attaining a normal, and hopefully successful, life.
TCI Village is a healing place for persons with addiction and behavioral issues. It has recently been granted accreditation by the Department of Health.
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tcivillage/; tel. nos. 0949-9967357, 0939-8673118, 0939-2912031
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