If you have been struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, you know how difficult it can be to kick a habit for good. If you have recently gone through rehabilitation but have relapsed, you might be wondering what to do next. You shouldn’t give up on yourself and your new sober lifestyle; instead, you should focus on the causes of relapse and what you can do to prevent them in the future. Focusing on relapse prevention is the ultimate goal, but if you have relapsed, you can pick yourself back up. Also, be sure to look at our step by step guide on what to do after a relapse. It’s all about taking action. You can’t give up.
Prevention is Important
It is best to avoid relapsing at all if possible. If you start feeling as if you want to use again, focus on the reasons why you quit using drugs or alcohol in the first place. It can be easy to miss the positive parts of drug or alcohol use, but you have to think about the negative things as well.
If possible, consider seeking counseling or attending a meeting if you are thinking about using again. Talking to a sponsor, counselor or another affected individual about your thoughts and feelings can help bring you back to reality and can help prevent you from relapsing.
A Relapse Isn’t the End of the World
If it is too late to prevent a relapse, you shouldn’t panic. Relapse is never a good thing, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. By giving yourself too hard of a time after a relapse, you could tempt yourself into using drugs or alcohol once again. Most people relapse on alcohol. Quitting drinking is very difficult, especially because of the social acceptance alcohol has. It’s no surprise that alcohol is the drug that most people first during a relapse.
Unfortunately, 40 to 60 percent of drug and alcohol addicts relapse during their first year of recovery, so you aren’t alone. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the slippery slope that you are on after a relapse, however. Instead, you should seek help immediately.
If at all possible, it is a good idea to attend a 12-step meeting or to schedule an appointment with a substance abuse counselor. Most importantly, do not pretend as if the relapse did not occur; this is the worst thing that you can do. Instead, focus on the mistake that you made and what you can do to prevent yourself from doing it again.
Common Triggers for Relapses
Unfortunately, there are a lot of common triggers that can cause those with substance abuse problems to relapse. Here are a few things to be aware of when dealing with drug cravings.
- Social Cues – Being in social situations around others who drink or use drugs can put you at a much greater risk of relapse. If you associate with drug users, you will be much more likely to pick up your old habits. Many people have an even harder time avoiding alcohol after rehab; since it is legal, easily accessible and generally acceptable among society, it can be difficult to say no.
- Depression – Depression and alcohol or drug dependency often go hand-in-hand. If you are feeling depressed, overly anxious or incredibly stressed out, you might be more likely to use. If you are experiencing these feelings, it is essential to get help from a mental health professional. Not only will doing so help prevent you from relapsing, but it can help you improve your overall mental health as well.
- Boredom – After years of using drugs or alcohol, you might feel incredibly bored when you’re sober. After a relapse, look for things that can keep your mind occupied in a healthier manner. For example, you can pick up a new hobby, or you can spend time exercising or hanging out with family and friends.
- Self-Pity – After going through the difficult path of quitting your alcohol or drug addiction, you might feel as if no one understands you and what you have been through. This can trigger a relapse, but it is important to surround yourself with positive people who don’t use drugs or alcohol and to seek the counseling that you need.
- Overconfidence – If it has been a while since you have used drugs or alcohol, you might think that you have kicked your addiction once and for all. This can cause you to be overconfident and to put yourself in the wrong situations, or you might think that you can have just one drink or just one hit without any dire consequences. After a relapse of this sort, it is essential to seek the help that you need to prevent it from happening again.
- Celebration – In the past, you might have used a bottle of alcohol or a dose of your drug of choice to celebrate things that were going on in your life. You might even be tempted to use drugs or alcohol to celebrate your recovery-related accomplishments. It is essential to find other things to celebrate with, however, such as with a nice dinner or a favorite movie if you want to avoid relapsing again in the future.
How to Move Forward
Moving on after a drug or alcohol addiction is hard enough, but it can seem even more difficult after a relapse. You shouldn’t give up on a life of sobriety, however, and you shouldn’t discredit your accomplishments. Instead, work toward seeking the additional treatment that you need, and focus on making positive changes in your life that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.