Relapse is a serious concern for anyone that struggles with addiction. While people who do not understand addiction sometimes view relapse as a failure, the truth is that it can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, the view that relapse represents failure leads to negative emotions such as guilt and frustration that do little to resolve the problem. Instead, take the time to understand why relapse happens and learn how to use it as a positive step in your recovery so that you can get back on track with your sobriety.
Understand the Nature of Addiction
Addiction tends to occur when a person struggles with other issues in their life such as a mental health condition or trauma. You may have started to use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with these types of issues. While going to rehab helps you learn tools to cope with the issues in your life, there is always the chance that new challenges that arise could cause you to experience triggers that lead to relapse. As you progress in your sobriety, you’ll eventually learn how to recognize signs of an impending relapse such as the following:
- Craving drugs or alcohol
- Thinking that you could handle just one drink or time using drugs
- Experiencing large amounts of stress
- Struggling to maintain a regular sleep schedule
- Feeling bored or unhappy with your current lifestyle
With experience, you will learn that these signs all signify that it is time to reach out for help.
View This as an Opportunity for Growth
When relapse happens, you may feel out of control and unable to handle your addiction. However, you do have a choice in how you handle this new event in your sober lifestyle. A relapse does not mean that you are weak or lack the willpower to stop abusing drugs or alcohol. Instead, it represents an opportunity for you to continue to grow as an individual. You now have the chance to learn more about what drives your addiction so that you can develop new strategies to prevent a future relapse.
Assess Your Current Lifestyle
Usually, relapse is a strong sign that something needs to change for the better in your life. Perhaps you have been too busy with work or your relationships to notice that stress has been building up over the past few weeks. Alternatively, you may have recently let someone back into your life who is a negative influence, or you might have slacked off on your diet and exercise regimen. All of these things could contribute to a relapse, but you may need help to identify what happened in your life if it is not obvious. Once you get to the underlying cause of your relapse, you are ready to regain control over your recovery.
Create a New Relapse Prevention Plan
As you work with your professional counselors and support network, you can put together a new plan to prevent future relapses from occurring. While everyone’s plan may look different, yours may include attending group therapy sessions along with at home strategies such as setting aside time to meditate or exercise each day. This new relapse prevention plan should address the changes in your lifestyle that led up to your relapse.
The realization that you relapsed often generates a sense of failure. Yet, you should know that this is not your fault. Instead, make the choice to seek help and move forward so that your relapse becomes just another learning opportunity that helps you be successful in sobriety.