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Brothers who Relapse
Addiction to drugs and/or alcohol is claiming more young lives than ever before in our nation’s history. Many of us know someone who has struggled with an addiction, maybe it is you. And if so, you know how difficult the road to full recovery can be. Temptations and specific triggers can claim a persons’ sobriety, sending them back into a full relapse. Relapse happens.
But did you know that men are more likely to relapse than women? And even though relapse is common, there’s no reason to accept it without a fight. Sobriety is worth the effort. Every recovering addict should have a plan for dealing with those inevitable moments of temptation. Brothers who are dealing with recovery every day, this one’s for you.
Recognize the Warning Signs
The stigma of addiction is a bigger burden for black men compared to other racial groups who already live with racial stigma. But nothing can grow in the dark, making honesty not just a good policy; but a lifesaver. Brothers (and others) find higher success with a solid support network. If you’re having cravings, there’s no need to repress them. Cravings are just a part of the process, acknowledge them openly so that you can fortify your will until they pass – and in time they will pass. Call supportive friends and family when this happens just but don’t let shame undermine your goal.
There are several specific symptoms that can influence a person’s ability to cope, igniting past addictive behaviors. Talk to your sponsor, therapist or drug counselor about the following:
- Loss of motivation for recovery
- High/Intensive stressful situations
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of control
Avoid People, Places, and Things that Lead to Relapse
People in recovery often have “triggers” for relapse. For example, if going to a gentleman’s club or a sporting event always made you feel like drinking, smoking weed, etc. then you might want to avoid these places and things. Subsequently, people can be a “trigger” (e.g. buddies on the corner, ex-girlfriend, etc.) for drinking or drug use. Whenever possible, avoid these people until you’re in a healthier mental state with some “clean time” under your belt.
African American men who are fortunate to have access to drug treatment, a supportive network, and an opportunity to resume a meaningful productive life can still face the harsh reality unspoken labeling by others. There are lots of substance abuse treatment modalities and philosophies, some embrace the idea as relapse as part of recovery and some do not. But we all experience weakness and these moments are a “normal” part of recovery.
A resilient attitude is key.
Embracing the “new normal” encourages those in recovery to be humble, seek help without shame, and manage weak moments. Black men without traditional support or insurance should explore community based organizations for support. Faith based institutions can also provide treatment support in addition to faith-driven healing. And there are thousands of 12-step programs available as well as online support forums. Literally relapse prevention support is a click away.
This article written by Walker Tisdale, Executive Editor of Healthyblackmen.org.