Author: Gary Jackson

How to avoid a relapse when things seem out of control

If you can demonstrate to those closest to you that you are making an effort to include them in your recovery, then you will start to feel more motivated to continue. You will strengthen your bonds, which can support you on your path to lifelong recovery. Once you’re able to refocus your mind on recovery, and you’ve taken responsibility for your actions, you should reach out to your sponsor. Remember to withhold judgment of yourself and stay positive about the opportunity that lies ahead to get back on track.

  • Just reach out for the help you need and realize that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Getting out of a high-risk situation is sometimes necessary for preserving recovery.
  • Relapse in addiction is of particular concern because it poses the risk of overdose if someone uses as much of the substance as they did before quitting.

But this view is considered harmful since it fosters feelings of guilt and shame that can hinder your ability to recover from a setback. For others, recovery is a personal growth process that usually involves a couple setbacks.2 Rather than viewing a relapse as shameful, this perspective looks at it as a learning experience. Also critical is building a support network that understands the importance of responsiveness. Not least is developing adaptive ways for dealing with negative feelings and uncertainty. Those ways are essential skills for everyone, whether recovering from addiction or not—it’s just that the stakes are usually more immediate for those in recovery. Many experts believe that people turn to substance use—then get trapped in addiction—in an attempt to escape from uncomfortable feelings.

Boost Personal Support

Reflect on what triggered the relapse—the emotional, physical, situational, or relational experiences that immediately preceded the lapse. Inventory not only the feelings you had just before it occurred but examine the environment you were in when you decided to use again. Sometimes nothing was going on—boredom can be a significant trigger of relapse. Such reflection helps you understand your vulnerabilities—different for every person. Armed with such knowledge, you can develop a contingency plan to help you avoid or cope with such situations in the future. Once a person begins drinking or taking drugs, it’s hard to stop the process.

what to do after a relapse

Explain what occurred and what you are doing to get back on track. It’s important to also explain how your relapse doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and you will be taking further action to prevent relapse from happening again. With the expert help of an addiction specialist, you can deal with the relapse, begin the recovery process anew and prevent future relapses. This list only scratches the surface of the many reasons why someone may relapse after drug or alcohol treatment.

Get Professional Addiction Recovery Help

In addition, feelings of guilt and shame are isolating and discourage people from getting the support that that could be of critical help. Among the most important coping skills needed are strategies of distraction that can be quickly engaged when cravings occur. Mindfulness training, for example, can modify the neural mechanisms of craving and open pathways for executive control over them.

Getting back on track quickly after a lapse is the real measure of success. Creating a rewarding life that is built around personally meaningful goals and activities, and not around substance use, is essential. Recovery is an opportunity for creating a life that is more fulfilling than what came before. Attention should focus on renewing old interests or developing new interests, changing negative thinking patterns, and developing new routines and friendship groups that were not linked to substance use. The longer someone neglects self-care, the more that inner tension builds to the point of discomfort and discontent. Cognitive resistance weakens and a source of escape takes on appeal.

How to Prevent a Relapse

Taking quick action can ensure that relapse is a part of recovery, not a detour from it. At this stage, a person might not even think about using substances, but there is a lack of attention to self-care, the person is isolating from others, and they may be attending therapy sessions or group meetings only intermittently. Attention to sleep and healthy eating is minimal, as is attention to emotions and including fun in one’s life.

what to do after a relapse

Remember that a relapse doesn’t mean failure — it simply means you need to adjust your recovery plan. Though it may initially feel like failure, it isn’t considered a failure if you follow these steps to get back on track. Remember to discuss relapse prevention techniques and make this a key area of focus in your revised recovery plan.

Work Toward a Balanced, Healthier Lifestyle

You can become concerned with other people’s problems or start to socially isolate yourself. Relapse is simply the worsening of a medical condition after a period of remission. In the case of a substance use disorder, relapse means a return to using. Addiction, by its very definition, is a chronic and relapsing condition. Meaning, even if you are committed to your recovery, there is still a real risk of relapse. If you’ve suffered a relapse, it’s important to look at this event as a learning experience.

  • The rate of relapse after treatment for alcohol abuse is around 90 percent.
  • In the face of a craving, it is possible to outsmart it by negotiating with yourself a delay in use.