There you are waking up to the reality that you’ve relapsed. You’ve drank or used a drug and now you’re left hanging your head in regret. You really wanted to stay clean and sober but now you’ve gone and relapsed. What should you do? Give up and start using consistently again? Or own up to your slip and get yourself back into recovery pronto? The best choice is the latter, read on for more information about next steps to take after relapsing.
A relapse does not have to be the end of your road to recovery
When you relapse while in recovery, you invite some ripples into your life for sure. Perhaps you got angry and went out on the town drinking until the wee hours of the morning. Or maybe you just couldn’t take the cravings anymore and bought yourself a bottle of booze. Then, the next morning before you even open your eyes your first thought are “What have I done? How could I let this happen?” All those months or years of sobriety all shot to hell and you didn’t even see it coming! How are you going to be able to face your family?
Now that you’ve relapsed, what are you to do?
Those who enter into a 12 Step recovery program, regardless if it is an alcohol or drug issue, usually go into the program with the intent to never use or drink again. It is easier said than done and there is a possibility that you will relapse so when this happens, what do you do?
You have several options
You can choose to stay on the path that led to you the relapse go full force back into your addictive nature. You can go with the mentality that you messed up, so you might as well just relapse hard since you’re already on that road.
Or you can start the recovery process again with a fresh commitment to stay clean and sober. This is certainly a better option, as clean and sober will get you further in life than acting out on your addictions. As you move forward taking responsibility for your relapse, there are a few things to keep in mind.
What led you to the relapse?
How can you avoid these triggers?
What steps can you take to get back on track?
More often than not, the behaviors that led you to the addiction to begin with will surface before the relapse. You need to recognize these triggers.
The longer you’re sober, the stronger you may think you are and could fall right back into the same situation or hang with the same friends, thinking you can handle them now.
By recognizing these triggers, you may be able to head off the next relapse before it begins. Preventative maintenance can certainly prevent relapse.
Emotional triggers can certainly lead to relapse. We are more vulnerable when we feel:
Giving up old friends and changing your lifestyle can lead you to feeling all alone. You may also find yourself thinking of connecting with these old habits or old friends. Perhaps you think you have lost control of your life and this can cause anger or self-pity.
Create a new circle of friends who are supportive and do not use. Explore activities that are healthy, allowing you to meet new people with good lifestyles.
Allowing yourself to become stressed and/or sick can trigger emotions as well. What are the things in your life that are causing stress? Write them down. Then tackle them one at a time. Let them go!
When you are ill, you have a low tolerance to temptations. Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Exercise can offer you another kind of rush, but this is a healthy one. Good exercises for beginners include
- Brisk walks
- Aerobics classes at a local gym
Get back into a 12-Step program or rehab
If you were in a 12-step program prior to your relapse, make it a point to stay in contact daily with your sponsor. Start the program over. Get a white chip. Make yourself accountable to others for your actions. You can also keep yourself encouraged by reading motivational books, listening to speakers, or watching inspiring videos. You also have the option of going to an alcohol or drug rehab, as there you will be able to build a firm foundation for your recovery.
The important thing to remember is to get back into your treatment plan.
A relapse is a step backwards but think of how far you have already come--it doesn’t have to be the end of your recovery road. Take full responsibility for your relapse and make a decision to start over immediately. Don’t put off the starting over because the longer you do, the harder it will be begin again. Move forward now. We all stumble and fall at times in various areas of life. How we choose to recover and get on the right path is up to you. Be optimistic and have faith in yourself.