Relapse Happens. Here’s What To Do When It Does
When you stumble on the road to recovery, it is important that you pick yourself up and continue the journey. Many people recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol will experience at least one relapse before they finally regain control of their lives. Studies show that approximately 50 percent of people will have a setback during the first year of their recovery. Although this statistic seems daunting, it is important to understand that recovery is a process of learning new ways to live and relapse may be a part of your story.
While relapses are common, it is difficult to handle when this happens to you. There is the tendency to blame yourself and feel that you should have been stronger. The feelings of anger, depression, negativity and self-doubt are counterproductive. A relapse is part of the learning process of determining what will work for your particular situation. It is just a detour. When one occurs, you should follow these tips about what to do after relapse to get yourself back on the road to recovery.
Take Action Immediately
You need to respond to a relapse immediately. Delaying may compound the problem and prolong the relapse, which can make things worse. You need to recognize and accept mistakes in order to achieve your goal. While you may not have all the answers now, having a strong desire to move past the pitfall is important to your recovery. Many rehab programs offer therapy following an inpatient stay. Contacting your support system for help is a good place to start. Only you can decide what to do after relapse and whether you want to continue on the path of recovery.
Learn New Coping Skills
The social pressures to use or drink can be immense. It is impossible to insulate yourself from all of them. Images appearing in movies, television programs and magazines can trigger cravings. Effectively combating these social pressures is not easy. You need to learn new ways to free yourself from these challenging situations if your old techniques no longer work. It is important to remind yourself that addiction is a disease and not a character flaw. This will help you rebound after the relapse just as you would learn to manage any other illness.
Attend Meetings and Build a Stronger Support Group
After a relapse, you should reach out to your sponsor, therapist or support system. Being honest about your relapse is the best way to deal with it. Contacting friends and family enables you to receive positive and encouraging feedback. Attending meetings and receiving help from your support network will facilitate getting you back on track. Letting others know that you are having a hard time provides an opportunity for them to offer other strategies and techniques that may help you.
Make Necessary Changes
During your treatment, you likely created a recovery plan that included goals and effective coping mechanisms. Once you left the treatment center, you may have been overly confident in your capacity to resist urges. You may have thought that you could handle the situations that triggered your dependence on alcohol or drugs in the past. The reasons for your relapse may include:
- Living by yourself and feeling lonely
- Poor self-confidence
- The absence of a support system of people who promote and believe in your recovery
- Not setting life goals
- Not making relaxation, good eating habits and exercising a priority
- Believing you have been cured and that there is no longer a need to work at recovery
- Experiencing a traumatic life event like death, unemployment or an end to a romantic relationship
- Living or socializing with other people who have substance use disorders
- Going to same places and doing the things that you did when using alcohol and drugs
It is important that you recognize the reason for your relapse and make the necessary changes. You should make a list of the people, places and things that can undermine your recovery. This will enable you to avoid situations in the future that prompt you to engage in destructive behaviors. In addition, keeping a list of people, places and things that can aid in your recovery is beneficial. These changes will help you develop a more effective recovery plan.
Depending on your individual circumstances, after a relapse it may be necessary to enter into an addiction treatment program again. If your relapse occurred early in your recovery, you may not have the tools necessary to remain sober. Contact an addiction counselor to find out if this is a good option for you.
Moving on from a relapse may seem overwhelming. The fact that you were clean and sober before you relapsed proves that it can be done. You just need to re-frame what relapse means, why it happened and ways to avoid another one in the future. Recovery happens one day at a time, and the journey can be challenging. Surrounding yourself with a strong support network and making the necessary changes can help you recover from a relapse and continue on the road to lifetime sobriety.