Addiction is a disease. Like other diseases, this can mean a mix of recovery and relapse. Instead of arguing whether relapse can be a part of recovery, we should remember that taking a step back is not a moral failing. Relapse expert Lawrence Pender recommends that we should simply consider this an indicator that our recovery plan requires a change. “People who relapse are sick people who need to get well, not bad people who need to be punished.”
Lawrence believes we’ll need to talk about the difficult things in our life with at least one other person. The disease of addiction is often tied up in trauma, which needs to be ‘processed’ by opening up to someone trusted.
Lawrence believes that all of us addicts need to process some things out of our heads before we get better.
We asked Spencer about the role of personal trauma in relapse
“It wasn’t until three rounds of addiction treatment that I wondered if a past sexual assault could have factored into my relapses. If I would have addressed the trauma when I first entered treatment and recovery, it would have set me up to be more successful.”
Do you think it’s an ego problem, where we are too proud to show vulnerability?
Do you remember the moment you first opened up about it?
“Yes. It felt disastrous. I was in primary at Tara, about to go to TR. My counselor had no idea why I hesitated to go home with my boyfriend at the time. She was asking questions to get me to open up.
Finally I just blurted out something to the effect of ‘I can’t go home with him, he let and watched me get raped.’ All while busting into a sob. She just stared at me for what felt like an eternity. And said ‘Okay, thank you for your honesty’.