Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Real Definition of Relapse and Why this one doesn't work

This is what one organization wants to say about relaspe--they "redefine" the word or lets say "spin" the word to make sure that kids and parents don't feel bad about treatment not working. Here is the upshot of this article:

The Real Definition of Relapse and Why it Matters: "a lapse in his abstinence, but did he relapse? Many families find it useful to distinguish between a “slip” or a “lapse” as an instance of substance use by someone who has a goal of abstinence and a “relapse” as a return to the pre-treatment pattern of substance use. When someone has fully relapsed, they slide back towards the heavy and frequent us"
So all concerned have a new way to look at this--have the kids using out of treatment "fully relasped?" Or have they only partly relasped? The article says if its partly, then lets call it a "slip" and if they fully relaspe, then we'll call it a relaspe. I pondered this approach for ahwile--chewed on the distinction. Other then the fact they don't want people to think treatment doesn't work (my assessment) they explain "If they believe Jacob’s one night of drinking is a relapse, it is easy to feel that all hope is lost, that all gains from treatment have been thrown away." I simply don't understand why they don't say--"Hey, you relasped! But its only one night, Get back on that horse and get back in touch with your support group and begin again." Instead, they want to say, "well, its not really a failure, its just a setback--don't consider it relaspe--just a little slip. Its OK to use now and again as long as you don't go back into full blown addiction."

The author explains that reframing this word allows the parents to escape the "overwhelming terror of the moment." My assessment is that it allows them to not face the facts--treatment for teens in an all teen setting is likely to make addiction worse, not better. One of the reasons is the sugar coating we see from Teen Treatment centers like this--addiction is not really addiciton, relaspse is not really realaspe--parents and kids will drop into despair if you don't sugarcoat every aspect of the disease...

I think this looks at parents as helpless and hapless and I also think it takes the responsiblity of recovery away from the only one who can recover--the teen themselves.

So, do I think reframing "relaspe" is a good idea? I think kids are smarter than that--if they are going to use again, they will--regardless of what you tell the parents to call it--relaspe, slip, failed sobriety, using, setbacks, --taking a mind affecting chemical means one thing, you have activated your disease again--and calling it by a different name doesn't make your disease less dangerous or treatment more effective..

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