Relapse isn’t a requirement to sobriety, however, no matter how committed you are to recovery, nobody is immune to it. However, if you do find yourself in the pitfalls of a relapse, whether it’s minor or major, it’s crucial that you seek help right away act immediately. You may be feeling scared, confused, disappointed, and may be unsure of what to do next. The most important thing that happens after you relapse is how you respond.
Some of these ways of thinking can be unhelpful and are often untrue. If you’ve found yourself in this position, there are several things that you can do to help yourself and pick yourself back up from your slip-up. We’ve put together a list of five helpful tips to do if you’ve reached this point.
Don’t View Relapse As A Failure
Was all your hard work at staying sober a waste? No. Addiction is a disease, and not a character flaw, and you don’t unlearn everything that you’ve worked so hard for. A relapse is simply a setback from a period of improvement, and not a failure. Nine times out of ten, the guilt and the shame we feel for relapsing can feel like a tidal wave. This can cause us to go into a tailspin and cause us to snowball even faster into active addiction again. Once we stop viewing our relapse as a personal failure, and start viewing at as a slip-up or mistake, we can begin to see it as a learning experience. By doing this, it can increase our chances of getting back on track instead of losing our recovery altogether and hiding away in disgrace.
Sometimes when you feel guilt, and have had a setback, reaching out for support can be scary and intimidating. When we’re hiding and keeping things inside, it’s easier to stay stuck in our shame and guilt, which could sink us lower into a worse relapse. This will only set you back more. It’s crucial to reach out for support as soon as possible after you’ve used. Make sure that those you reach out to will support you and encourage you to stay accountable. These could be those such as friends, sober supports, sponsor, family members, or therapists. The sooner that you’ve reached out for support, the faster you are to get back on track.
Assess Your Needs
Relapse is a clear sign that something is wrong and there may be issues that need to be addressed. After a slip-up, it is crucial to explore the reasons behind it to understand what triggered it in the first place. Without some processing and reflection, it’s possible you’ll be able to avoid another relapse should the same issue return.
How severe was your relapse? Are you in need of more treatment? If you went on a multiple week-long bender, another episode of treatment may be wise. Just like every addiction story is different, so is the path to recovery. Use this time to realize what didn’t work or wasn’t sufficient the last time. Need to get back into working the 12-steps? Need to change a daily routine? Or just have a different outlook? These are the questions we must ask ourselves. Get the help that you need.
Know You’re Not Alone
Enough said. Know that you’re not the only person that has relapsed after a period of sobriety, and you’re not going to be the last person that relapses. There are other people who have been down this path and have picked themselves up. However, you must not use this as an excuse to fall deeper into the rabbit hole.
Like we said above, the guilt and shame you may feel can weigh you down and only keep you in relapse longer. Instead of looming over the mistake, learn to forgive yourself. After acknowledging your relapse, let go of the negativity. Pick yourself up, let go of your emotions, and get back into sobriety.
Moving on from your relapse can seem daunting and almost impossible, however by practicing these four tools, we can view it from a different perspective, learn from our mistakes, and avoid it in the future.