A relapse is when you return to using drugs and/or alcohol after a period of sobriety. For many in recovery, relapse is considered part of recovery. I do not subscribe to that theory as it can give people a reason to relapse. The ultimate goal for sobriety should be permanent sobriety. However, relapse is a common occurrence thus it is important to know what you should do if you do relapse.
If you’ve ever relapsed, you may be familiar with the feelings of shame and guilt that can be associated. It is these feelings and emotions that can make it difficult to bounce back. The most important thing is to remind yourself that relapsing does not mean you are a failure. Once the relapse happens, it is vital to not live in the past. What matters is how you respond to the relapse. Once you relapse, it is important to try to view it as a mistake you can learn from instead of allowing this incident to ruin your sobriety altogether. This is where viewing relapse as part of recovery can be helpful because it takes the stigma away and allows you to take action, putting in the effort after you relapse to get back on track with your recovery. That being said, a relapse is ONLY a part of the learning process IF you recognize the mistake and use it to inform your recovery, NOT if you continue using. Recovery is a lifelong journey and there will be bumps in the road, it is just important to learn how to deal with them. Here are some ways to deal with a relapse after it happens.
How to deal with a relapse
Bouncing back after a relapse can be very difficult. Not only do you have the physical component, but the emotions and feelings that go with a relapse can be devastating. Here are some tips to get back on track:
- Stop using as soon as possible
It is important to stop using as soon as you can. The longer you continue to use the harder it will be to begin sobriety again. Do not go on a bender simply because you have relapsed. This is a common mistake that many make. Their desire to give into their addiction keeps them addicted. Additionally, with the prevalence of Fentanyl these days, your next high just may be your last. Recognizing that you made a mistake and choosing to stop immediately will best set you up to get back on track with your recovery.
2. Don’t stay in the past
A relapse can feel like a step backward, however, relapses are common. Recognizing that you’ve made a mistake and moving forward in your recovery is essential in getting back on track after a relapse. Set realistic goals and make a plan that can help prevent a relapse in the future instead of focusing on the relapse that has already happened. You can’t do anything about the relapse. The most important thing is what you do going forward. Remember, you cannot change the past but you can learn from your relapse and have a better plan for the future.
3. Find a support group
After a relapse, it is vital to reach out for support. In fact, it was probably a lack of community and/or support that contributed to your relapse. We often isolate ourselves before a relapse. Contacting a sponsor or recovery partner can help you take accountability for your relapse and make a plan to move forward. This is an important step in getting back on track because it allows you to own up to your mistake and move forward. Rather than allowing feelings of guilt and shame to hold you back in your recovery.
4. Re-enter treatment
If you find it too hard to return to recovery on your own, you may want to consider returning to treatment if you started there. Sometimes relapses indicate that your current recovery plan may need to be altered. Treatment centers can assist you in developing a treatment plan that will better safeguard your sobriety. In fact, if you did attend treatment, many facilities will allow you to return for a short period in order to reassess your treatment plan and assist you in changing things to provide more success int he future. If you are considering returning to treatment, do not view this as a failure, but instead, look at it as a continued commitment to getting and staying sober.
5. Make the necessary changes to prevent future relapse
Make your relapse serve a purpose. Learn from it and use it to inform your recovery and make necessary changes. For example, if you realized a specific trigger may have prompted your relapse, create a plan to cope with or avoid that trigger in the future. Or, if you realized that you were isolation more, go to more meetings and get some accountability to staying connected with others. Use the relapse. Don’t let it use you.
San Diego Sober Living is a sober living community that is dedicated to providing the support and accountability you need in order to prevent relapse. If you are seeking for a structured sober living environment to enhance your recovery plan please give us a call today. Or, if you just want to hang, we are any number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in the La Jolla, Pacific Beach and San Diego area. We would love to meet you.