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Understanding Relapse and Preventing It

In my private practice Spiced Life Conversation, LLC we help women struggling with childhood emotional neglect and abandonment trauma that cause them to lose themselves in one-sided relationships, codependency patterns of people-pleasing, and emotional eating in times of stress. In addition, we create self-care recovery plans using ancient herbal remedies to address health issues of diastasis recti repair and vaginal atrophy. With all that said, a question I get from loved ones supporting a family member in our Life in Recovery membership or our aftercare program is why people develop addiction and seem to always relapse after coming home from rehab. Well, it's complicated and the big picture needs to be addressed to understand the issue of trauma and addiction.

Understanding the Roots of Addiction and the First Step to Recovery

The journey from addiction to recovery is a profound and often arduous process. It begins with understanding why people develop addiction and taking the crucial first step towards recovery. This section explores the factors that contribute to addiction and the importance of the initial step in the recovery process.

Why People Develop Addiction:

Addiction is a complex and multifaceted condition, and there is rarely a single cause. Various factors contribute to the development of addiction:

  1. Genetics: Genetic predisposition can make some individuals more susceptible to addiction. A family history of addiction can increase the risk.

  2. Neurobiology: The brain's reward system is central to addiction. Substance abuse or addictive behaviors can lead to changes in brain chemistry that drive addictive tendencies.

  3. Environmental Factors: An individual's environment can play a significant role. Exposure to drugs or alcohol at an early age, living in a high-stress environment, or associating with peers who engage in substance abuse can all contribute to addiction.

  4. Psychological Factors: Underlying mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma, can lead people to seek relief through addictive substances or behaviors.

  5. Socioeconomic Factors: Economic hardships, lack of access to education, and limited opportunities can increase the likelihood of addiction.

  6. Social and Peer Pressure: Social factors and peer pressure can lead individuals to engage in substance use or addictive behaviors as a means of fitting in or coping with social situations.

  7. Cultural and Familial Norms: In some cultures or families, substance use may be normalized, making it more likely for individuals to develop addiction.

  8. Physical Pain and Illness: Chronic pain or illness may lead to the use of prescription medication, which can later turn into addiction.

The First Step in Recovery: Acknowledgment

The very first step in the recovery journey is acknowledgment. This is the pivotal moment when an individual recognizes and accepts that they have a problem with addiction. Acknowledgment is not only the first step but often the most challenging one.

Why Acknowledgment is Essential:

  1. Self-Recognition: Acknowledgment marks the beginning of self-awareness. It requires individuals to confront their addiction and its impact on their lives honestly.

  2. Seeking Help: Without acknowledgment, individuals are less likely to reach out for professional assistance or seek support from friends and family.

  3. Initiating Change: Recovery cannot begin without recognizing the need for change. Acknowledgment is the spark that ignites the desire to live a healthier, addiction-free life.

  4. Breaking Denial: Denial is a powerful defense mechanism that often keeps people trapped in addiction. Acknowledgment is the first step in breaking through this barrier.

How to Approach Acknowledgment:

  1. Self-Reflection: Take time for introspection and self-reflection. Consider the consequences of your addiction on your life and the lives of those around you.

  2. Seek Support: Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor. Sharing your struggles with someone you trust can be an essential part of acknowledgment.

  3. Professional Guidance: If you're finding it challenging to acknowledge your addiction, consult a healthcare professional or therapist who specializes in addiction. They can provide insights and support.

  4. Acceptance, Not Self-Blame: Acknowledgment is not about placing blame on yourself but about understanding that addiction is a challenge that needs addressing.

Understanding the roots of addiction and taking the first step of acknowledgment is crucial in the recovery journey. This step paves the way for seeking help, initiating change, and ultimately breaking free from the grip of addiction. Recovery is a process, and the first step is often the most challenging, but it is also the most transformative.


How To Deal with Mistakes Life Happens

Relapse is a common and discouraging aspect of addiction recovery, but it doesn't have to be the end of the journey. Understanding the reasons behind relapse and learning effective strategies to prevent it are essential for individuals in recovery. This section will explore the factors contributing to relapse and provide guidance on how to avoid it.

Why People Relapse:

Relapse is not a sign of failure but rather a signal that something in the recovery process needs attention. Several factors can contribute to relapse:

  1. Cravings and Triggers: Strong, persistent cravings for the addictive substance or behaviors, often triggered by stress, boredom, or exposure to cues associated with the addiction.

  2. Emotional Distress: Overwhelming emotions, such as anxiety, depression, anger, or loneliness, can lead to relapse as individuals may seek their addiction as a coping mechanism.

  3. Overconfidence: Some individuals may believe they have their addiction under control and can handle "just one" drink or hit, underestimating the power of their cravings.

  4. Negative Life Events: Major life stressors like a breakup, job loss, or the death of a loved one can trigger relapse, as individuals may turn to their addiction for comfort.

  5. Peer Pressure: Associating with friends or acquaintances who still use or engage in addictive behaviors can put individuals at risk of relapse.

  6. Lack of Support: Insufficient support or a weak support system can leave individuals feeling isolated and vulnerable to relapse.

Preventing Relapse:

While relapse can be a part of the recovery process, it's possible to reduce the risk and develop strategies to maintain sobriety. But we must remember that addiction is a disease and must be treated with empathy and understanding to read more about addiction being a disease go here. In the meantime here are some effective methods for preventing relapse:

  1. Identify Triggers: Recognize and understand the triggers that can lead to cravings and potential relapse. Once identified, you can work on avoiding or managing these triggers effectively.

  2. Coping Strategies: Develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and emotions. This can include mindfulness, meditation, exercise, journaling, or therapy.

  3. Support System: Build and maintain a strong support network. Lean on friends, family, support groups, or a sponsor who understands your journey.

  4. Regular Check-Ins: Continue attending therapy or support group meetings even after the initial phase of recovery. Regular check-ins can help you stay accountable.

  5. Relapse Prevention Plan: Create a detailed relapse prevention plan that outlines what to do in case of cravings or triggers. This plan can serve as a guide during difficult moments.

  6. Self-Care: Prioritize self-care by maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle. This includes exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and relaxation.

  7. Positive Reinforcement: Celebrate your milestones and progress in recovery. Acknowledging your achievements can boost your motivation and self-esteem.

  8. Avoid High-Risk Situations: Steer clear of people, places, or situations that are associated with your addiction. This reduces the chances of encountering triggers.

  9. Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable and realistic goals for your recovery. This can help you maintain focus and a sense of direction.

  10. Seek Professional Help: Don't hesitate to seek professional guidance if you're struggling with cravings or relapse. Therapists and addiction specialists can provide valuable support.

Relapse is a challenge, but it's not the end of the recovery journey. By understanding the potential causes of relapse and implementing proactive strategies for prevention, individuals can regain control over their lives. With resilience, support, and effective coping mechanisms, relapse can be minimized, and a life of sobriety and well-being can be achieved. Remember that recovery is a process, and each step, whether forward or backward, is part of the journey.


Reckoning with the Past: Confronting Addiction and Trauma

For an active addict struggling with substance abuse and carrying the weight of past pain and trauma, the journey to recovery begins with an essential step: confronting the negative impact that addiction and trauma have had on their life. This section explores the process of coming to terms with these issues, paving the way for healing and transformation.

Understanding the Impact: Addiction and Trauma:

  1. Addiction's Grip: Active addiction can consume a person's life, causing physical, mental, and emotional harm. Understanding the grip of addiction means acknowledging its power to control behavior, damage relationships, and sabotage well-being.

  2. Unresolved Trauma: Past pain and trauma often play a significant role in driving addiction. These experiences may have been used as a coping mechanism, but they also perpetuate the cycle of addiction and suffering.

The First Step: Acknowledgment:

  1. Recognizing the Pain: The initial step in confronting addiction and trauma is acknowledging the pain that has been endured. This pain can manifest in various forms, from emotional distress to the loss of relationships and opportunities.

  2. Self-Awareness: Active addicts often use denial as a defense mechanism. Acknowledgment is the first step in breaking through this denial and cultivating self-awareness.

Seeking Professional Help:

  1. Therapy and Counseling: Consider engaging with a therapist or counselor who specializes in addiction and trauma. Professional guidance can provide valuable insights, coping strategies, and a safe space for self-expression.

  2. Group Support: Joining support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can create a sense of community and understanding among individuals who have faced similar struggles.

Self-Reflection and Self-Forgiveness:

  1. Journaling: Keeping a journal can be a powerful tool for self-reflection. Write about your experiences, emotions, and the impact of addiction and trauma.

  2. Self-Forgiveness: Forgive yourself for the mistakes and decisions made during active addiction. Accept that the past cannot be changed, but you have the power to shape your future.

Understanding the Link Between Trauma and Addiction:

  1. Identify Triggers: Recognize the connection between past trauma and addiction triggers. Understand that certain situations, emotions, or people may push you toward substance abuse.

  2. Coping Mechanisms: Learn about healthier coping mechanisms that can replace substance abuse as a way to deal with pain and emotional distress. Seek guidance from professionals in managing trauma-related triggers.

Setting Recovery Goals:

  1. Personal Growth: Determine your recovery goals, whether they involve healing, personal growth, or rebuilding relationships. These goals can provide direction and motivation for the journey ahead.

  2. Long-Term Sobriety: Make long-term sobriety a priority. Embrace recovery as a means to a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Building a Support System:

  1. Family and Friends: Share your journey with loved ones who support your recovery. Reconnecting with them can be an important part of healing.

  2. Sponsor or Mentor: Consider seeking a sponsor or mentor in a support group who has successfully overcome addiction and trauma. They can provide guidance and a sense of accountability.

Coming to terms with the negative impact that addiction and trauma have had on your life is an essential step toward healing and recovery. Acknowledgment, professional help, self-reflection, and setting recovery goals are crucial in this process. The journey is challenging, but it is also transformative, offering the potential for a life free from the grip of addiction and the scars of past trauma.


Building Your Wellness Team: A Key to Sobriety

Achieving sobriety is a transformative journey that often requires a strong support system. Building a wellness team, composed of individuals who provide guidance, encouragement, and expertise, is essential in helping you overcome addiction and maintain a fulfilling, healthy life. This last section explores the importance of a wellness team and outlines the steps to create one.

The Importance of a Wellness Team:

  1. Diverse Expertise: A wellness team can consist of individuals with diverse backgrounds and expertise, including therapists, medical professionals, mentors, and peers. Each member brings a unique perspective to your recovery.

  2. Accountability: Having a team that holds you accountable for your recovery goals can help you stay on track and committed to your sobriety.

  3. Support and Encouragement: Members of your wellness team offer unwavering support and encouragement during the challenging moments of your recovery journey.

  4. Preventing Isolation: Addiction often leads to isolation. A wellness team keeps you connected and engaged with others who understand your struggles.

  5. Comprehensive Care: Wellness teams can address various aspects of your well-being, from physical and mental health to emotional and spiritual growth.

Steps to Building Your Wellness Team:

Self-Assessment: Before building your wellness team, assess your specific needs and goals in recovery. Identify the areas where you require support and expertise.

Therapist or Counselor: Find a trauma-informed nutritionist, recovery coach, therapist, or counselor who specializes in addiction. They can provide individualized treatment plans, therapy, and emotional support.

Medical Professional: Consult with a medical professional, such as a primary care physician or psychiatrist, to address any physical and mental health issues related to your addiction.

Support Groups: Join support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or SMART Recovery. These peer-led groups offer a sense of community and understanding.

Mentor or Sponsor: Seek a mentor or sponsor within a support group who has successfully navigated their own recovery journey. They can provide guidance and accountability.

Family and Friends: Include supportive family members and friends in your wellness team. Open communication and their understanding of your recovery goals can be invaluable.

Alternative Therapists: Consider holistic or alternative therapies like acupuncture, yoga, meditation, or art therapy to address mental and emotional well-being.

Wellness Professionals: Engage with wellness professionals such as a nutritionist, personal trainer, or mindfulness coach to address your physical health and self-care.

Relapse Prevention Specialist: If relapse is a concern, consider working with a relapse prevention specialist who can help you identify triggers and develop strategies to avoid them.

Legal and Financial Advisor: If legal or financial issues are connected to your addiction, consult with an attorney or financial advisor to resolve these matters.

Spiritual or Faith Leader: If spirituality is important to you, connect with a spiritual or faith leader who can support your spiritual growth and recovery.

Communication and Coordination:

  1. Foster open and honest communication among team members, ensuring that they are aware of your goals and challenges.

  2. Coordinate the efforts of your wellness team to create a comprehensive and cohesive approach to your recovery.

  3. Regularly check in with your team members and attend scheduled appointments and meetings to maintain accountability.


Building a wellness team is a powerful step toward achieving and maintaining sobriety. Each member of your team plays a unique role in your recovery, offering the support, guidance, and expertise you need to overcome addiction and build a healthier, more fulfilling life. Remember that your wellness team is there to help you, and together, you can navigate the challenges of recovery and celebrate the successes along the way.

Would You Like For Spiced Life Conversation To Be Part Of Your Wellness Team? Click Here


Need Help Developing A Plan For Self-Care Do you want help developing a self-care plan that works for your busy schedule? Do you want accountability in implementing a self-care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self-care routine, and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self-care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.

Dr. Nikki LeToya White
Dr. Nikki LeToya White

About The Author: Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director, and full-time board-certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC Art Wellness Studio and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expanded to include an online membership site so we now provide support to people living all over the world. All of our recovery coaches provide at least one evidence-based treatment to assist in your recovery. Dr. White is a big proponent of self-care and helping people live a fulfilling life! She has been in full remission with both codependency and emotional binge eating disorder since 2016. In living a life in recovery from sugar addiction. Loving her low-sugar balance lifestyle. Best Regards Dr. Nikki LeToya White

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