Starting over after relapse
How to get back up after an addiction relapse
A relapse is a relapse, whichever way you put it. It doesn’t matter if it happened after a few days or you relapsed after several years. The best thing to do in such a situation is to pick yourself up quickly.
How can you recover from relapse without the guilt or shame? We review here. Then, we invite your stories, questions, or calls for support at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate comments with a personal and prompt reply.
Actionable steps to starting over
STEP 1: Accept that you have relapsed
A common problem with people who relapse is the stubbornness in accepting the facts. Normally you’ll want to find someone to heap the blame on, to make you feel that somehow you could have avoided the relapse were it not for them. That’s counter-productive.
Accepting responsibility for your role in why relapse occurs can be difficult: You’ve been here already! You already know how the first few days in recovery have felt.But it all comes down to what you want for yourself. If you’re keen about recovering completely, the first thing you need to do is to take the relapse as a mistake and accept that mistakes do happen. You realize that you want to re-establish a sober, healthy life-style.
STEP 2: Act immediately
After a relapse, do not wait for a few days before taking your first action. That will most likely compound the problem and prolong the relapse period, causing you unnecessary stress worrying about going downhill again.
The first step is to get in touch with your 12-step sponsor to update them on what has happened. Do it as soon as you discover that you relapsed. They aren’t going to be very surprised because during the relapse you probably stayed away from meetings and your absence will have raised an eyebrow. Making the call won’t be easy; you will feel horrible and ashamed. If you can’t speak about it on phone, send a text message or email the
STEP 3: Make a decision about detox
Depending on the length of your relapse or the substance of abuse, you may need a supervised detox program to get you back on track safely and effectively. Seek a medical assessment for your level of dependence, including a past medical history and evaluation of drug use. Many times, an effective detox which minimizes the discomfort of withdrawal can increase your chances of successful recovery.
STEP 4: Enlist the support of close ones
Family and friends closest to you will be the most affected by news of the relapse. But just like your recovery team, they are likely to have to have noticed a change so they won’t be too surprised. Facing your brothers, sisters, parents, spouse, children or other family members can be incredibly difficult. Even though they love you unconditionally, you’ll feel that you’ve let them down badly. You can even expect that they are exhibiting a range of emotions towards you.
But you’ll need their support now even more than you did in the past. Let them know about this and ask for their encouragement as you re-embark on the journey to recovery. Reassure them that you mean what you say. You may need the help of a recovery professional to convince them that relapses are not uncommon and that many times people experience a relapse before finding their footing in recovery.
STEP 5: Come back stronger
Some of the things you’ll be doing will be familiar making you feel like you’re going back to the very beginning of recovery. It becomes even more difficult if the recovery wasn’t the smoothest one. The tendency to think that you’ve been there in the past may leave you wondering what else you need to learn.
One great piece of advice is to change your outlook of relapse. Move away from thinking of relapse as failure and instead look at it as part of the recovery process. Encourage yourself that you never wanted to relapse in the first place, but now that it has happened, you need to be even stronger. Finally, work on ways to stop relapse from happening again in the future.
Starting over can be a part of the process
There is no one-size-fits-all route after a relapse. In fact, many addiction professionals consider relapse as part of the recovery process. If you’re keen on attaining a sober lifestyle in the long term, you must just accept what has happened and get back on the path to recovery as soon as possible.
Still have questions? Need support? Leave us a comment in the section below and we’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.
Photo credit: geralt