The Ultimate Guide on What to Do When You Relapse

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Are you a recovering alcoholic or drug addict? Are you on the road to recovery, but worried about relapsing?

A relapse can happen at any stage during the recovery journey, so it’s perfectly normal to be worried about a relapse happening. If you do experience a relapse, it’s important to understand what to do when it happens.

Check out this guide to discover what to do when you relapse.

Change Your Mindset

If you’ve relapsed from drugs or alcohol, it’s important to realize what that means. When many people relapse, they feel as if they’ve failed.

But, you shouldn’t see your relapse as a failure. Rather, you should see it as a setback on your road to recovery. Just because you’ve relapsed, doesn’t mean that all of your hard work in your recovery journey has been a waste.

By viewing your relapse as a mistake or a slip up rather than a personal failure, it’ll be easier to get back on the wagon.

Reflect on the Relapse

Dwelling on your relapse for too long can prevent you from making the necessary steps to move forward. That being said, it’s still important to reflect on your relapse so you can figure out what you need to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

There were likely a variety of factors that contributed to your relapse. When something leads you to relapse, it’s known as a trigger. Identifying these triggers can help you avoid them in the future.

To figure out what really led you to use again, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I been spending time with the wrong people?
  • Have I been participating in negative self-talk?
  • Have I been letting my physical health slip? (ie, not exercising, eating poorly)
  • Have I been letting my mental health slip? (ie, not taking medications or skipping therapy appointments)
  • Have I been putting off responsibilities like paying bills or finding a job?
  • Have I been getting too relaxed with my recovery efforts? (ie, skipping support group meetings)

By asking yourself these questions, it’ll be easier to pinpoint what led you to relapse. If you’re having trouble answering these questions yourself, you may want to work with a substance abuse counselor or therapist who can help you sift through the possible reasons as to why you relapsed.

Get Support

Whether it’s through a therapist, AA sponsor, substance abuse counselor, or family member, it’s very important that you get the right support after your relapse.

Remember, relapsing does not mean you’ve failed, so you shouldn’t feel any embarrassment or shame about getting support. In fact, getting support shows that you’re serious about making sure another relapse doesn’t happen.

Research shows that positive social support can decrease your chances of relapsing, so don’t listen to that little voice in your head telling you to avoid getting support.

Consider Returning to Treatment

You may also want to consider returning to treatment if you’ve relapsed.

Again, returning to treatment doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you’re starting at square one again. Oftentimes, it takes people several rounds of treatment to really beat their addiction.

And, keep in mind that there are many treatment options available, so if you don’t want to do a full 28-day in-patient program, you don’t have to. If you’ve gotten used to your freedom and feel like the outside world has been a positive influence on your recovery, then you may want to consider an outpatient treatment program or a halfway house.

Make the Right Changes

In order to truly recover from your relapse, you need to make sure you’re not just talking the talk, you also need to walk the walk. This means that you need to take actionable steps to make sure your relapse doesn’t happen again.

Getting support, returning to treatment, and reflecting on your relapse are all a part of this. But, you also need to formulate a plan to make sure your relapse doesn’t happen again.

Let’s say, for example, that you’ve relapsed because you’ve been hanging out around the wrong crowd that doesn’t respect your sobriety. If this is the case, then you need to make a plan to distance yourself from these relationships.

Or, if you believe you relapsed because you’ve been feeling overwhelmed about day to day life tasks (paying bills, running errands, etc), then it may be a good idea to sit down and create a budget as well as a to-do list of everything you need to do.

The more concrete steps you can take, the easier it’ll be to bounce back from your relapse.

Focus on Developing Healthy Habits

Developing healthy habits is another major component of recovering from a relapse. Making positive changes in your physical health can be extremely beneficial for your mental health.

Studies show that you’re much more likely to relapse if you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, so it’s very important to form healthy habits that can keep your mental health in check.

Here are some things we suggest doing:

You should also make sure you set aside time for self-care each week.

Forgive Yourself and Move On

Last but not least, it’s very important that you forgive yourself for your relapse. Feelings of guilt and shame are common after a relapse, but they won’t help you in the long run.

It’s fine to acknowledge these feelings, but don’t allow yourself to wallow in them. Instead, make a plan to get back on track and focus on your future goals.

What to Do When You Relapse: Are You Ready to Move On?

Now that you know what to do when you relapse, it’s time to put these tips into action. Before you know it, you’ll be back on the recovery wagon.

If you’re interested in re-entering treatment after a relapse, contact us today.