When someone is on the path of recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, sometimes a relapse occurs. It’s not that they want to. In fact, most people try really hard to avoid relapsing. However, relapses, or what some call “slip ups”, do occur for some – especially in early recovery.
Should you find yourself relapsing, it will help you to know what you’re going to do afterwards.
What will you do? Will you give up? Just keep drinking or using drugs? Will you beat yourself up over and over thinking you’ll never get it right?
Or will you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back into recovery full force?
The thing about relapsing is that you have a choice as to what you do once the relapse has occurred. This isn’t giving you permission to relapse, but it does help you realize that you have options.
Professionals will tell you that the number one tip is that you shouldn’t delay in getting yourself sober again. Some people will “slip up” and then feel terrible. They may feel ashamed, frustrated, and so on. They may use the negative feelings to justify going on a bender, drinking or using their drug of choice for weeks or months longer.
If a relapse occurs, get right back on your recovery path.
Here are some great tips on how you can deal and move on if a relapse occurs:
Try not to point fingers at yourself or others concerning your relapse. It won’t do any good. Relapse happens at times, and if you’ve relapsed, accept it and let it go. Get back into action on your road to recovery and stop dwelling on the past.
Tell someone that you trust about your relapse. You don’t want to receive harsh judgment, so be sure that you tell someone who you feel with be non-judgmental. This could be your sponsor, counselor, close friend, or a family member.
If you’re a 12 Step meeting participant, get to a meeting as soon as possible and pick up a white chip. This lets others know that yes, you’ve relapsed, but that you also are choosing to get back on the road to recovery.
Why did you relapse? Were there signs that you were about to drink or take drugs again? What led up to your relapse? When you discover why you relapsed, you can take actions toward contending with such in the future before you actually use again.
Make a relapse prevention plan. Write down what may trigger you and then plan on how you can avoid those situations. For example, if driving home past the liquor store causes you to crave a drink, maybe find a different route home where you don’t pass by it. If arguing with your mother-in-law makes you crave your drug of choice, do your best to keep conversations easy and calm.
You get the idea. Learning your triggers and contending with them can help prevent relapses.
If a relapse occurs, be on the lookout for regret, or a feeling of sadness that tries to keep you down. If regret comes for a visit, simply acknowledge it and then let it go. You could say something like:
“Hey regret. Thank you for the visit. I know you are seeking more of my attention, but I’ve really got some other things I want to tend to – like happiness and peace. I really like hanging out with them. You? Not so much. We’ve had our fair share of hangout time and well, honestly you leave me feeling terrible, so although I appreciate your gesture, I now ask that you leave. No offense. I’ve just decided not to entertain thoughts of my past that make me feel like dirt.”
Then, shift your focus on something different; something that actually brings you positive feelings. You see, regret will come and try to get you to lounge around in sadness. If you’re not careful, your mood will go from happy to miserable in no time.
But the past is the past. The relapse? The regrets?
Learn from them. If you’ve made mistakes, welcome to life. Everyone has, but we can learn from them and cut ourselves a little slack. Life did not come with an instruction manual, so we’re all learning as we go.
So, the next time regret shows up at your door, acknowledge it and then make a decision to let it go. It’s over. You are learning from it. Then, turn your attention to something positive like how much your dog loves to give you kisses or how adorable your kids are. Or perhaps how you are choosing to live a healthier lifestyle.
If you find yourself relapsing and cannot seem to get back on the path of recovery, it may help you to reach out for some support. Addiction counselors or perhaps a drug or alcohol addiction rehab can help you understand better why you keep relapsing and help prevent you from this in the future.
It may feel scary to reach out for help, especially if you’re used to being ultra-independent. However, chronic relapsing is not something you should ignore. If you’ve tried and tried to stay sober or clean, but keep slipping up, look into alcohol treatment or drug rehab. Do some research and see what type of addiction treatment resonates with you.
You don’t have to let a relapse get the best of you. Dust yourself off and make a decision to get sober again and live a life free of alcohol. Get the support and encouragement you need to do so. Before long you’ll be feeling much better.
Here at Into Action Recovery Society, we’re proud to offer the best addiction services and alcohol treatment in Vancouver. If you need help, please reach out today. We’d be happy to assist you in any way we can.