Ben Affleck is one of Hollywood’s most notable celebrities. He’s extremely well-known for his roles in Gone Girl, Justice League, Argo, and Good Will Hunting. The actor has seen immense success over his many years in the entertainment industry but has not been without his own set of personal struggles. One of the biggest struggles he has dealt with for a good portion of his career, and his life, has been his dependency on alcohol. Alcohol addiction is no joke and it can seemingly come out of nowhere. This type of addiction is something that millions of Americans, and people around the world, struggle with every year. Recently, after a full year of sobriety, Affleck has admitted to having a lapse in his sobriety. After a video of him stumbling out of a Halloween party was captured, he quickly admitted to slipping up in his recovery. We feel for Affleck and his struggle with addiction, so what does his relapse tell us about recovery? Let’s discuss it!
What is Relapse?
For those of you who do not already know, a relapse is when a former addict falls back into their addictive habits. A lot of people think that relapse is something that is easily prevented, but when you have been a victim of addiction for some time it can be difficult to completely rid yourself of the temptations to use again. Former addicts are constantly tempted to use again, sometimes even every day. Robert Downey Jr. famously said, “It’s easy to stop using, but it’s harder to not use again.” Many people think addiction is a choice, but it is far from it. Though the initial first decision to use a substance is by choice, what happens after is due to a tainted mind. Substance affect the way a person’s brain work, mostly affecting the brain’s reward system. The reward system is a part of a brain that releases dopamine, the hormone most closely related to happiness when we do rewarding behavior. This happens when we workout, eating good meals, enjoying time with friends, or doing any behavior that can be considered rewarding. Substances act in the same way.
The chemicals in substances cause our brain’s reward system to release incredible amounts of hormones that cause happiness. Though this may not sound all that bad initially, rest assured it is very unhealthy. The more you use a substance, the more your body will need to release the desired amount of dopamine. This is how addiction forms. Your body starts to crave that reward it feels from using a substance, resulting in more substance abuse. The brain is manipulated into thinking it needs a substance to feel that sense of euphoria. This craving can be overwhelming to the point of being out of control. Even when a person is in recovery, these cravings still linger from time-to-time. In Ben Affleck’s case, it is clear to see that his cravings have not diminished. However, rather than shaming him for his temporary setback in sobriety, we should be telling him that it is okay. Though relapse is not a good thing, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nobody is perfect, and relapse just goes to show that you are human.
Ben Afflecks’ Relapse
For any former addict, relapse is something they may have to deal with. Cutting out substances cold-turkey can be extremely difficult to deal with because of intense cravings and withdrawal. Withdrawal can be an extremely uncomfortable thing to deal with, but it usually lasts for 1-2 weeks prior to the last use of a substance. However, cravings are something entirely different. Cravings to use a substance again usually come about through things known as triggers. Triggers are things that cause a former addict to recall their experiences with substances and can even tempt them into using again. Triggers can be such things as locations, people, situations, etc. For example, an addict’s cravings may be triggered if they are at an event where their previous substance of choice is present. Another example can be emotions like sadness; if an addict used substance whenever they felt sad, they could easily want to use again if they ever feel sad.
We’re All Human
With all this in mind, it’s easy to see how Affleck had a lapse in his sobriety. Recovery is a very fragile thing and it’s easy to see why relapses happen. Instead of shunning those who relapse, we should be encouraging them to get back to their sober life. We all slip up from time to time, so why should we have any other expectations from addicts? Of course, we want former addicts to live a successful sober life, but we should not expect them to be without temptations. In Ben Affleck’s case, he is owning up to his momentary setback and setting back to his sober lifestyle. This shows us that people don’t want to live their lives shackled to addiction, but they do want to recover. At the end of the day, people living a sober life will have to deal with cravings or maybe even setbacks, but that doesn’t mean recovery is not possible. Cravings show us just how serious addiction is and that recovery is a life-long struggle for some.
If you are someone that has been struggling with addiction and are looking to live a sober life, look at Ben Affleck’s situation. Recovery is a life-long struggle. Sure, the decision to stop using is easy, but maintaining sobriety is not always as easy. As a former addict, you have to work at your sobriety every day. It’s not an easy lifestyle, but it does get better. At the end of the day, a life free of dependency on substances is a life worth living, no matter how difficult it is. We wish Ben Affleck luck on his journey back into sobriety after this momentary setback. As we’ve said already, we’re all human and nobody is perfect, but we just need to keep fighting for the changes we want to see in our lives. Stay strong, Ben and anyone else living a sober life!
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 602-346-9142.