For anyone who has not had to experience the battle of addiction before, recovery can seem like a straight path when on the outside looking in. Ask someone for help, go to treatment, and get sober, stay sober. Simple and easy right? Anyone who has dealt with addiction first hand will tell you otherwise. Recovery is not an easy process and it is not the straightforward journey that it seems to be. The journey of recovery is a winding path filled with ups and downs.
What Happens When You Relapse in Recovery
One of the biggest “downs” or disappointments someone in recovery can experience is returning to their drug of choice after living in a period of sobriety. This is better known as a relapse. While relapse may feel like a failure to most, it is more common than one might think. The unfortunate but real truth is that relapse is a threat that is always present for those living in recovery, no matter how long you have been sober.
What to Do When Relapse Happens
The first thing you should remind yourself once a relapse has occurred is that it in no way signifies a failure on you or your loved one’s part. It is common for people to feel regret or shame after this happens. While the feelings are understandable, they are also counterproductive because it can prolong the amount of time it takes you to rebound from a relapse. Instead, use the relapse as a tool for you to lay a stronger foundation of groundwork to ensure a greater chance at long-term sobriety.
A Relapse Does Not Mean It’s Over
You should also determine whether or not you would need to return to treatment. This will depend on the length and severity of your relapse. If you used just one time, you will likely not need to go back to detox and inpatient treatment. It is good to remember that you are not truly starting over though if you do decide you need to go to treatment, even though it may feel like it. You already hold a lot of knowledge that you gained from your previous experience in recovery; you may just need to improve on it.
It is also important to figure out what triggered the relapse and understand why it happened. This could mean you will have to get rid of unnecessary stresses in your life, cutting out toxic people, or avoiding triggering places that encourage the bad habit.
Tips for Getting Over a Relapse in Recovery
If you have recently relapsed, remember that you have already made great progress in your recovery and a slip-up does not have to ruin your sobriety. Below are some ways that you can get over a relapse and get your recovery back on track:
- Learn from your mistakes: Be sure to acknowledge that your behaviors and relapse were a mistake and find out what led you to make the mistake in the first place. Mistakes should be seen as a learning tool on what not to do in the future to determine what went wrong and what can be changed going forward.
- Go to 12-step meetings: Going to a 12 step meeting is a great way to stay on track with your recovery after you get out of treatment or after a relapse. It also helps you to recommit yourself to your sobriety by keeping you immersed in a life of self-growth. It also provides you with a great support system of like-minded people for when you feel triggered in the future
- Stay away from triggers: One of the best ways to get over a relapse and back into sobriety is to remove the triggers that could compromise your sobriety. This could even mean removing certain people from your life and certain activities that cause you to act negatively. While it is often easier said than done, it is an effective way to keep you from being tempted.
- Find new hobbies: It is important to find new ways to keep yourself busy that are healthy and constructive to you. If you spend too much time alone or in your thoughts you could become bored or overwhelmed to a point where you want to relapse. Try things like, exercise, art, cooking, volunteering, or some other activity that makes you feel good.
Get the Help You Need for Substance Abuse
Remember that your recovery is not a destination but a lifelong journey of healing and self-improvement. Relapse should just be seen as a setback on your path to a life in recovery. We at Recreate Life Counseling are here to help you on your path to sobriety. Contact our 24/7 helpline for a confidential assessment around the clock.