Drug tunnels that originate in Mexico and burrow their way under the border and into the US are usually the ones in the headlines. Once inside the country, most drug dealers make use of the highways to get large shipments of heroin, cocaine, or marijuana from point A to point B, taking advantage of the lack of checkpoints and border crossings within US borders.
Most, but not all. Ohio officials recently shut down a drug tunnel responsible for bringing cocaine and methamphetamine into the state that originated not in Mexico but here in Texas. Dismantling the massive operation took almost three years and the collaboration of a couple dozen federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Ultimately, 11 people were arrested, and Ohioans are hoping that there will be a downward shift in the numbers of residents succumbing to overdose as a result.
Here in Texas, however, the problem of drug flow in and out of the state continues. With such close proximity to the border, Texans are continually trying to manage the risks that come with continual access to every illicit substance on the market.
Is your loved one attempting to stay sober or manage a drug abuse problem despite continuous exposure to life-threatening drugs?
Though it is possible to abstain from all use of drugs and alcohol in order to stay sober, it is not possible to avoid any exposure to substances. Without warning while watching a movie or TV show, a character may suddenly swallow a handful of pills or shoot up. At a restaurant, people in close physical proximity may not only drink alcohol but drink so much that they are noticeably drunk.
This exposure, planned or not, can have a significant impact on your loved one. Even if they do not outwardly acknowledge the event, it can have a tremendous effect on your loved one’s thoughts, their ability to focus on their recovery, and their commitment to working through the hard parts as they aim to stabilize in sobriety.
Repeat exposure can amplify this effect. Working in a restaurant that serves alcohol, living with someone who smokes marijuana even if it is outside of the house, seeing people who are under the influence or who regularly get high – all of this can contribute to cravings that become more and more difficult to ignore.
Managing a Relapse
Drug addiction is defined as a chronic disorder, one that is often – though not always – characterized by relapse. Like diabetes, cancer, and other diseases that are episodic in nature, someone living with an addiction can go into “remission,” and spend months, if not years, living completely without the use of drugs and alcohol only to experience a relapse.
There is much debate over whether or not relapses are a given or if they can be definitively controlled. The fact is, it is impossible to avoid living in the world and being exposed to the toxins and toxic choices of others. While people in recovery from diabetes, cancer, or addiction can try to avoid any and all contact with sugar, chemicals, and substances, respectively, it is impossible to avoid all exposure. Even with the best of intentions and the most intensive efforts, it happens, and cravings can turn into relapse.
The good news is that relapse does not have to mean a return to active addiction. Just as it is possible to limit exposure to triggers, it is also possible to stop drinking or using once the behavior is restarted and to grow stronger on the other side of relapse.
If your loved one has relapsed, you can encourage them to:
- Talk to a therapist or substance abuse treatment professional. A pro can offer objective support, research-based ideas for how to move forward, and assist in determining whether or not it is necessary to increase treatment services.
- Continue to attend 12-Step meetings and therapy sessions. Skipping out on exposure to positivity and growth in recovery will only increase the power of the negativity related to relapse.
- Avoid keeping the relapse a secret. It can be tempting to try to pretend that it didn’t happen and just move on, but if relapse is to be prevented in the future, it is important to get it out in the open.
- Consider what contributed to the relapse and how best to handle it going forward. Relapse does nothing to address the triggers that preceded it, so it will be necessary to identify what caused the cravings and take positive action.
Is your loved one struggling with relapse? What treatment services will help them get back on track?