Addiction is a complex issue that can take years to resolve even with the help of professional treatment. Unfortunately, the chance of relapse is high especially in the first few months after completing rehab.
Relapse is a reality that many addicts must deal with in spite of their determination to remain sober. As discouraging as a relapse can be, it does not mean that you have failed in your journey to recovery.
Although you might be feeling ashamed and frustrated with this setback, the best option is to focus on the steps toward getting back on track. These are some of the key actions to take that will help you quickly return to a sober lifestyle.
1. Understand the Problem
Even though you might feel guilty or upset about your actions it is important to examine them and understand exactly what happened. Did you have a temporary slip-up or complete return to old habits and behavior?
Consuming alcohol or drugs on one occasion can be considered a minor lapse while going back to abusing at the level you once did is more of a full relapse. Either problem is only considered a failure if you give up on recovery instead of refocusing your energy on sobriety.
2. Talk to Someone
While you may be tempted to hide or cover up your mistake, it is better for your progress to be honest about what happened and tell someone right away. Talk to a close friend, family member or your sponsor so that they can help you figure out the best plan to bounce back.
If it feels like a serious emergency you can go to an A.A. meeting or even return to a rehab center to get professional help. The important thing is that you admit the truth and get the support you need.
3. Refocus on Recovery
After talking to someone and receiving some help you can start committing to changing your life again. Refocus on the tools of recovery that you learned the first time you attended rehab.
If you immerse yourself in the fundamentals of treatment, rework the twelve steps and attend more meetings then you can regain the motivation necessary to be sober. Continue talking to your support system and seeking the advice of your sponsor as often as possible so that you feel more connected to your goals of recovery.
4. Consider the Reasons for Relapse
When you are feeling more stable and the crisis itself is over it is time to think about why you turned to abuse again. What were the circumstances, emotions or triggers surrounding your relapse?
As you examine the events that led to your setback in sobriety you will get a better idea of how to avoid making the same mistake in the future. Once you understand the specific reasons for your relapse you can make a plan of action so that you know what to do if similar circumstances arise.
5. Forgive Yourself and Move On
As you get back on track and resolve some of the issues surrounding your relapse you must remember to forgive yourself for your mistakes. There may be a lot of guilt and shame surrounding your addiction and returning to old behavior but forgiveness is a key part of healing and moving forward.
Letting go of guilt is the healthiest way to continue making progress and avoid triggers in the future. When you are holding on to resentment and anger toward yourself it can lead to negative energy that can cause another relapse.
The final step is to recognize that the relapse is over and you can continue your positive and sober lifestyle.