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Lamar Odom: Learning from his Addiction Struggles and Relapsing in the Public Eye

Lamar Odom: Learning from his Addiction Struggles and Relapsing in the Public Eye

The truth is, Lamar Odom’s journey is so familiar to the rest of us. As the NBA star highlights in his own confessional letter, there was little difference between him and any other drug addict in the United States. “At that point in my life, I was doing coke every day. Pretty much every second of free time that I had, I was doing coke. I couldn’t control it. I didn’t want to control it.” ~ Lamar Odom The difference – for better or for worse – is that Lamar Odom went through his addiction struggles and eventual relapse in the public eye. His story has sadly been publicized over and over again, more as a tabloid headline than as a true warning for what addiction can do. This public pressure may not have necessarily helped the athlete overcome his own struggle with addiction – but what can we take away from this situation?

Understanding Lamar Odom’s Journey With Addiction & Recovery

Lamar Odom drug addictionLamar Odom’s journey with drugs is more than just a cautionary tale of the dangers of cocaine. It goes even further than that, and shows us both what relapse looks like and what causes relapse in drug addicts. “It was the first time in my life that I felt helpless. I felt like I was two inches tall. It was just… it was real.” ~ Lamar Odom on the aftermath of his nearly fatal drug overdose A couple of years ago, Lamar Odom – the famous NBA player – nearly died from a drug overdose. Unfortunately, this was just one part of the athlete’s long journey with drug abuse and addiction. According to Odom himself, addiction has been part of his life for a very long time. Even after his initial drug detox, Lamar Odom’s struggle with addiction continued. In one interview with Rolling Stone, the NBA star describes the negative impact that his drug use has had throughout his life – including everything from financial decisions and relationship problems. In his words, he is ready to move past all of the wasted time and wasted energy of drug addiction. Clearly, Odom has been through a lot and is ready to turn over a new leaf in this new chapter of recovery. This is a great attitude toward recovery – it looks like we can learn quite a bit from the athlete’s words and experience. Lamar Odom’s journey with addiction and recovery can help us understand quite a bit about addiction struggles and relapse – including the idea that relapse is part of addiction recovery.

The Truth About Relapse: It’s Part of Recovery

More than anything, we can learn to recognize that relapse is part of recovery. There is an unfortunate misconception that relapse is not part of recovery. This is understandable – after all, the goal of addiction recovery is to overcome the effects of drugs or alcohol completely. But addiction relapse statistics tell us that relapse is part of recovery – and it is relatively common.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates are between 40 and 60 percent for individuals in recovery.

While the relapse percentage may seem high, it is not necessarily alarming. After all, the addiction relapse statistics are similar as other diseases (such as hypertension or type 1 diabetes). Lesson number one, then, is that just because the relapse rate for opiate addiction is so high does not mean that addiction is not treatable. “When you’re an addict, nothing can get through to you. I never thought I was going to die. I never thought I’d be in a coma. I didn’t think I had a problem. But then I woke up in a bed with tubes coming out of my mouth – and it was real.” ~ Lamar Odom on his drug overdose

What We Can Learn from Lamar Odom’s Story of Addiction & Relapse

The fact that Lamar Odom’s story was in the harsh glare of the public eye is unfortunate. But it does give us an opportunity to learn the impact of addiction and relapse through his story.  So what can we learn from Lamar Odom’s story of addiction and relapse? One thing that we can learn from Lamar Odom’s story is what relapse looks like. We can also learn some of the triggers that can lead to addiction relapse – such as the pressure of the public eye for Lamar Odom. It is not always to know how to tell if an addict has relapsed, especially since the phases and warnings signs of relapse vary person to person. But there are some common relapse triggers and relapse warning signs to be on the look out for.

Addiction Relapse: Triggers and Warning Signs

Even before the warning signs of relapse begin to show, it is important to look out for relapse triggers coming up in your life or the life of someone you know and love. Relapse triggers from person to person, but some of the most common relapse triggers include:

  • Hanging out with people or in places associated with your addiction.
  • Letting other psychiatric problems (such as anxiety or depression) go unresolved.
  • Being in settings with continued drug use or abuse.
  • Experiencing negative emotions because of relationships or loneliness.
  • Being overconfident about your addiction recovery process and your ability to keep addiction at bay.
  • Staying isolated, away from family, friends or support groups.

These relapse triggers will look different for each person, but can plant a seed that could eventually turn into addiction. In turn, some of the most common warning signs of relapse include:

  • The person in recovery stops doing what they need to complete recovery. This can include anything from attending group support meetings to skipping steps of the recovery program.
  • The person in recovery starts romanticizing the days that they used drugs as more fun or more carefree.
  • The person in recovery starts acting anxious, moody and selfish without considering the thoughts, feelings and needs of others. This is sometimes called ‘dry drunk’.
  • The person in recovery starts justifying “just one drink” or “just one pill” instead of remaining committed to full abstinence.

Moving Forward By Moving Addiction Struggles Out of the Public Eye

Lamar Odom relapseLamar Odom clearly had an earnest desire to recover from the addiction that had taken over his life. Was it fair to put these addiction struggles – including relapse – in the harsh light cast by the public eye? “Addiction is never truly behind a person, but Lamar comes across in the frank letter as a man coming to terms with his addiction and his life. That clarity and honesty don’t guarantee recovery or happiness, but it does serve to inform others of the dangers he succumbed to and allow shim to confront his past so he can look ahead.” ~ Pen Collins, writing for Good Magazine Shame and guilt are neither healthy nor particularly effective when it comes to getting addiction treatment for someone who has relapsed on opiates or other drugs. Just because Lamar Odom is good at sports does not mean that he should be subjected to public scrutiny and judgment. In fact, the pressure of fame and publicity may have had a lot to do with his personal relapse triggers. Lamar Odom’s addiction struggles and relapse in the public eye highlights the importance of knowing relapse warning signs and relapse triggers for those important to you. If you have more questions about common relapse triggers, what causes relapse in drug addicts, or how to tell if an addict has relapsed, do not hesitate to contact us today.