In the toil of addiction, addicts linger in denial, misery, and shame, yet accept their position with little argument. This naturally changes in rehabilitation and treatment, but how much of it truly changes? Oftentimes, addicts find they are still unhappy, ashamed of their actions and current position, ultimately resulting in relapse.
Relapse is a return to a downward spiral back into addiction, typically feeling guilty for past mistakes and starting again. Many addicts in the transition of recovery or middle of relapse regularly share a common feeling: resentment. In resentment, there is a great amount of regret yet awareness in our past mistakes. These mistakes are often abundant in nature and leave for a lot to think about in recovery.
But how does it often turn against so many addicts? This is the characteristic of resentment, and how heavily it affects relapse and recovery.
Feelings of Resentment
Resentment is a feeling defined as “anger because you are forced to accept something that you do not like.” In the case of addicts, many feel resentment for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they feel frustration towards their current living situation, mistakes made in their addiction, and the addiction itself. Addiction can especially harbor feelings of resentment, as contrary to popular belief, addiction is not something that can be controlled.
Addiction is a chronic mental disease, and anyone can fall victim to it regardless of social standings and living conditions. Whether a homeless person or a prestigious businessman, anyone can become addicted to drugs under the right circumstances. Loss of family or friends, financial troubles, or general depression and anxiety are all common factors to addiction.
Furthermore, resentment can continue to build as addicts think about their past actions in recovery. If left unchecked, however, this build-up can lead to dangerous possibilities of relapse.
Connections to Relapse
Many addicts have no idea what to expect going into treatment, nor do they always know how to handle it. Some might expect a parade of sob stories, recounting bad drinking nights or other repetitive routines. But realistically, many addicts will share their feelings of regrets and anger in their addiction. Perhaps this anger is at themselves, their standard of living, or environmental aspects that influenced their addiction.
While resentment and regret are important feelings to experience in the learning process of recovery, containing them is key. Resentment can derail to a point where these negative feelings feed into old habits—ones that revive addiction. Relapse occurs when resentment spirals so out of control that people become entitled to their addiction. By nurturing resentment rather than using it as a tool to learn, it instead becomes a reason to stay addicted. Instead of abusing drugs to escape life setbacks, resentment begins justifying continued drug abuse.
If resentment can sustain an endless cycle of addiction and relapse, how is an addict supposed to handle it? After all, resentment does not need to be dropped immediately; instead, it should serve as a reminder of past mistakes. Nevertheless, it is a reminder that needs to be handled in a healthy manner and eventually resolved.
Firstly, addicts need to stop allowing their feelings to ruminate—repeating and dwelling on them over and over again. Instead of repeating the events and feelings that led to addiction, addicts should understand that they must eventually forgive themselves. Alternatively, an addict must begin to see themselves positively and in a better light.
Seeking treatment often goes overlooked when in fact, doing so takes a great amount of courage to do. Treatment and recovery require a strong willingness to improve–one that should be strongly encouraged. With the struggle of addiction, treatment can be bolstered further with programs even after initial rehabilitation. By handling and accepting resentment as another part of recovery, addicts can accomplish success and recovery going forward.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact Discovery Place’s Treatment & Rehab alternative in Tennessee. You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment center alternatives, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Alternative Recovery Program or our Long Term Alternative Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.