Many people recognize the common saying of “once an addict, always an addict.” But what does this saying really mean? Are people addicts for life? If you become addicted to a particular substance, do you need to avoid all addictive substances after you start your path to recovery?
If you abstain from using your substance of choice, you may be worried that you will replace this addiction with another. Further, if you are married to someone who is or has been addicted to a substance, you may be wondering if your loved one will turn to their drug of choice whenever temptation arises. The truth is that addiction is more complex than this simple phrase.
Once an Addict, Always an Addict?
While “once an addict, always an addict” is a common claim, it is not necessarily true. This saying leads many to believe that addicts can never get better and are doomed to be addicted for life. Even if an individual stops using their drug of choice, this phrase can make them believe they will replace one addiction with another, such as alcohol, another drug, gambling or video games.
Part of the problem with this common saying may be rooted in the disease model of addiction.
Models of Addiction
Many experts recognize two main models of addiction:
- Disease model of addiction: In the disease model of addiction, the belief is that a person’s addiction has a biological origin. As such, this model claims that addicts will always be at the same risk for relapse as when they entered addiction treatment.
- Attachment model of addiction: In the attachment model of addiction, a person’s relationships and how they are treated are considered the origin of the addiction. For example, a neglectful or abusive family may cause addictive tendencies. Through this model, it is believed addicts can create healthy relationships and learn tools that can greatly minimize the risk of relapse.
The reality is that a variety of factors can lead to this disorder. Understanding the reasons for your addiction is one of the most important steps in recovery.
What Does Addiction Recovery Mean?
Let’s say you’re in addiction recovery. Are you still an addict for life? For many, addiction recovery means that a person is progressing toward recovery, even though they haven’t necessarily been cured.
One way to think of addiction recovery is like being in remission. Relapse remains a possibility, just as cancer can return after treatment. You can also think of it as being in recovery after surgery.
Tips for Lasting Recovery
A life free from addiction is possible. Follow these tips to ensure a lasting recovery:
- Eliminate triggers: Eliminating triggers from your life can help you remain on your path to recovery, as a trigger can lead to a 40% to 60% chance of relapse.
- Avoid stress: Stress is a big risk factor for both addiction and relapse, so try to minimize stress as much as possible.
- Use positive self-talk: You need to believe in yourself and your ability to overcome hurdles, so be kind to yourself.
- Utilize your support system: Recovery groups and peer support are helpful in keeping you on track for a drug-free life and are linked to better rates of recovery.
The right treatment program will help you build these healthy habits as you overcome your addiction. To learn more, contact us at Gateway Foundation today.