6 Steps to Get Your Sobriety Back on Track After Relapse
Relapsing doesn't mean your recovery has failed. For many people with a history of addiction, relapse is a normal part of the healing process. It's not whether you relapse that determines the success of your recovery, it's how you respond to it.
Here are six steps that will help your recovery get back on track after a relapse:
1. Get Clean
The first thing to do after a relapse is stop using. Throw away drugs or alcohol you've obtained and delete suppliers' contacts. If you need to detox under medical supervision, find a center where you can detox with the necessary support.
2. Get Help
Next, reach out to the resources that have been instrumental in your recovery. That may be your therapist, your sponsor, a 12-step group, or another resource. While it’s painful and humbling to admit you’ve relapsed, it’s important to reach out to people who understand addiction and the challenges of staying sober.
3. Tell Your Loved Ones
It’s tempting hide a relapse from loved ones, but it’s not smart. Guilt, secrecy, and isolation create an environment where addiction thrives. By admitting to your relapse, you create a culture of honesty where you can ask for and receive the support you need. Explain to loved ones that your recent relapse means it’s especially important to avoid addiction triggers in the coming weeks. As a result, you may need to opt out of social events where substances are present and instead create your own safe social situations where you’re in control of the environment.
4. Consider Another Round of Treatment
If your relapse was lengthy or you struggled with cravings for a long time before relapsing, you may benefit from additional addiction treatment. Treatment helps you break the pattern of substance abuse and reconnect with your reasons for being sober. If you need serious intervention, inpatient treatment is the better choice. But if your commitment to sobriety hasn’t wavered and you just need help getting on track, outpatient addiction treatment provides support with less disruption to everyday life.
5. Tweak Your Sobriety Strategy
Relapse doesn’t mean your recovery is a lost cause, but it isa sign your sobriety plan needs adjusting. With a solid recovery plan, your coping strategies and support system should keep you from relapsing when cravings become overwhelming. Since that didn’t happen, it’s time to identify the weak points in your sobriety plan and fix them. Do you need stronger motivation for staying sober, a larger network of people you can call on when your resolve is wavering, or a better strategy for avoiding triggers in your social life? If you’re not sure where your recovery plan failed, talk it through with your addiction counselor.
6. Forgive Yourself
Once you’re past the relapse, don’t dwell on it. Relapses are common — according to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of people in recovery experience a relapse.
By viewing your relapse as a step along the journey, rather than as the end of the road, you can keep moving forward in addiction recovery. That said, you shouldn’t be too permissive regarding relapses. While relapse isn’t uncommon, it is undesirable. Repeated relapses could land you in what’s known as the revolving door of relapse, in which you cycle through relapse and rehabilitation without a strong commitment to long-term recovery.
For many people, relapse is part of the recovery process. Nonetheless, it’s still a difficult and demoralizing experience. When you’ve relapsed, it’s easy to convince yourself you’ve failed and are incapable of staying sober for the long-term. But that’s not truth, that’s addiction talking. By taking steps to get back on track after a relapse, you show the world — and yourself — that you’re serious about your sobriety.
(Image via Unsplash)
Guest blog by Constance Ray. You can find more from her at Recoverywell.org. Ms. Ray helps those in recovery and their loved ones overcome the pain caused by addiction. She believes life can always get better. That’s why she created her website as a place where those in recovery can inspire others through their stories of hope.
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