When Addiction Relapse Occurs, What Next?
In recovery, addiction relapse is very common. While addiction is treatable, statistics show that relapse happens often. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60% of people in drug addiction relapse in their first year of sobriety. This number goes down as more sober time is achieved, but relapse can happen at any time. It is key to pick yourself up and move forward if it happens, so you don’t get pulled back into the depths of addiction.
Prevent a Relapse Before it Starts
Naturally, the best thing you can do is prevent relapse in the first place. However, things happen and relapse does occur, no matter how hard you are trying to stay sober. Taking certain steps to prevent relapse is huge, and vigilance is necessary to make sure thoughts of relapse don’t creep up on you.
To prevent relapse, some of the best things to do include:
- Know your triggers and avoid them
- Have a strong sober support system
- Work on your recovery each day
- Take good care of yourself
- Never think that you are cured of addiction
- Play the whole tape of your addiction through
- Distract yourself with a different, healthy activity
- Think about recovery one day at a time
Never keep thoughts about relapse to yourself. Talk to a trusted family member, friend, or professional who can help you get through any urge to use.
When Addiction Relapse Happens
If a relapse happens, the worst thing to do is beat yourself up over it. Doing so will only cause you to spiral down, get anxious about the situation and use or drink more. You certainly shouldn’t give up and think your recovery is over because of a relapse, either. Everyone is human, and relapse happens to even the strongest of people.
Realizing that you relapsed after all your hard work is devastating. You can do one of two things – dwell on it and bring yourself down more and continue to use, or learn from your mistake and choose to move forward, stronger than ever.
No matter how much you disappointed yourself and your loved ones with your relapse, you need to look at it as a way to move on, stronger. It is easiest to go back down the path of addiction, but we all know it will lead to pain, damage, fear, and even jail or death. While easy, there is no good outcome. On the other hand, sobriety takes some hard work, but it is so worth it.
As someone who has had some sober time before you relapsed, you know how good it feels to be sober. Sobriety is like a peaceful oasis compared to the chaos of addiction. After a relapse, you need to pull yourself together and strive to get back to where you once were in your sobriety.
Picking Up the Pieces
After you have made the decision to get back on top of working on your recovery, there are a few steps you have to take. First of all, it is essential to remove yourself from the situation or people who caused you to drink or use drugs in the first place. Having negative influences around you is not healthy because you will be weak in the first couple days and weeks of sobriety. The temptation to use will be much stronger and easier than the desire to stay sober.
Depending on how long your relapse lasted, you might consider getting professional help. A medical detox will help you get over the initial withdrawal stage, during which many people relapse because of the discomfort.
If you are working a 12-step program, get back in touch with your sponsor. The initial meeting will undoubtedly be difficult, but they will help support you and get you back on your feet. Going back to meetings is also important, and use the opportunity to speak up and share your story with other people in the room.
An equally difficult conversation will be speaking with your loved ones. They will obviously feel the pain and betrayal of your relapse, and emotions will be high. Ask for their help, and explain that you are choosing to take the route of sobriety, and not stay in your addiction.
Hitting the Restart Button on Recovery
Don’t assume that you can pick up where you left off and be good to go. You will need to start approaching things like you did when you first tried to sober up. With this relapse behind you, now you are aware of how vulnerable you really are. Look at it as a valuable lesson in protecting your sobriety every day.
Don’t get overwhelmed by thinking about how much sober time you may have had and lost. Take things day by day and work towards achieving sustained sobriety once again. As long as you stay strong and keep moving in the right direction, you’ll keep getting days, weeks, and months under your belt, only this time you will be even stronger than before.