Misconception #8: Relapse is failure

From my son, I learned: that relapse happens. It happened often with Jeff. There are countless examples of recovering addicts like Philip Seymour Hoffman, who stay clean for years, relapse, and die. Drugs are powerful and addiction never rests. It bides its time and waits for the right moment to pounce.

My reflection: Through a dozen of my son’s relapses, I suffered. I wondered what I was doing wrong, and what I could/should be doing differently. Every relapse was a red, flashing light that blinded me with a sense of failure. It took me years to understand.

Today’s Promise to consider: Relapse is a gut-punch, instantly dashing hopes and optimism. But the reality is that relapse happens. Each time it did for Jeff, I felt guilt, anger, and betrayal…until one day Dr. MacAfee told me, “Relapse isn’t failure. It’s one step closer to recovery.” I still hold that thinking close in my work with addiction. It buoys me when I hear about recovering people losing their footing. It helps me keep hope alive.


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CAROLlibbycataldiTina Kopp Recent comment authors
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Tina Kopp
Tina Kopp

I really needed this reminder TODAY! Yesterday was a terrible day, my emotions, my thoughts, nothing but negative. The tears just wouldn’t stop. I guess it’s okay to have a day like that, but it’s now a new day. I’ve heard tears are cleansing. I am feeling cleansed. It’s time to put one foot in front of the other. It’s time to keep looking up, trusting God! That is where my help and hope comes from, I need to stop looking at persons, places, and things for the contentment, joy and peace I desire. I must come to terms with… Read more »