Friday, November 6, 2009

Caring for Our Recovery

First, the good news, the risk of relapse declines with the passage of time! While
roughly 95% of uneducated smokers who attempt to stop smoking relapse within a year,
the relapse rate declines to just 2 to 4% per year from years 2 to 10, and then falls to less
than 1% after 10 years.392 Keep in mind that these rates occurred among ex-users who
generally had little understanding of nicotine dependency and no formal respect for the
Law of Addiction. If compliant with the Law our risk of failure remains zero.
But just one powerful hit of nicotine and the addict is back! While ignorance of the Law
is no excuse, most ex-users do not remain ex-users because of understanding or respect
for “one puff” relapse rates seen in recovery studies. They do so because once home they
discover that life without nicotine is better than when using it.
While the relapse rate for years 2 though 10 may seem small, when added together the
risk becomes significant. One recent study suggests that as many as 17% who succeed
for 1 year may eventually relapse.393 These ex-users do not relapse because they dislike
being home. They do so because they lose sight of how they got there, who they are, and
the captivity they left behind.
Among educated ex-users there appear to be three primary factors associated with
(1) a natural suppression of memories of recovery’s early challenges,
(2) the exuser
tries to rewrite or amend the Law and
(3) the ex-user thinks he/she has found a
legitimate excuse to break or ignore it. When these factors combine with an offer of a
cigar, alcohol use around those still using394 or occur in an impulsive-type person,395 the
risk of relapse is magnified.