While relapsing may make you feel guilty, you should know that relapse is a normal part of the recovery process from addiction. More than half of all people who go to a rehab facility experience a relapse, especially early in sobriety, not because of ineffective treatment or weakness, but because overcoming addiction is emotionally, mentally, and physically challenging. It is a chronic, lifelong disease that requires continued treatment and support to prevent relapses.
If you have relapsed, please remember that this is not the end of your addiction treatment journey. You can receive help and get back to sobriety. If you’ve had a relapse, you should:
Call for Help
The very first thing you should do is reach out to someone you trust for help. It may be a friend or family member who will offer support, your sponsor, or your previous treatment center. The staff at the treatment center you trust can offer fast support and advice to help you quickly get back on track.
Your counselor or therapist can help you determine what support you need, whether that is an outpatient therapy session or detox assistance. You treatment may depend on what type of drug you used. For instance, opioids have a difficult withdrawal process that may require detox assistance while alcohol use may be stopped with the support of a 12-step program.
The sooner you call and the less you use, the better for your continued recovery. If you have had multiple drinks or have been using again for weeks, it’s likely you need the more intensive support of inpatient care again. However, if you’ve only had one drink, you may be able to stop again with just the support of people in your community.
Remove Risks for Additional Use
You should also remove all drugs and alcohol from your home immediately. Your support person can do this or help you do this. Don’t leave anything behind that you may be able to find later.
You should also avoid environments and people that may trigger you to use more. Make plans with sober friends, participate in a hobby, and stay busy away from places where you typically used in the past, such as bars or clubs. These places can cause you to fall into old habits more easily.
It’s important that you stop use as quickly as possible. While you were sober, you lost your tolerance for drugs or alcohol. This means when you use again, you may be more likely to experience negative side effects or even overdose. Relapsing is common, but it is also dangerous; that’s why you need help to stop use again.
Remember You’ve Made Progress
Be kind to yourself if you have relapsed. Show yourself the empathy you need to heal and move forward. Many people feel guilty or ashamed after a relapse; however, relapse is common and a symptom of addiction. Don’t let these feelings keep you from seeking help.
Remember, relapsing happens, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never achieve long-term sobriety or that you can’t become abstinent again. If you have achieved sobriety once, you can do it again with the right care.
Instead of seeing relapse as a failure, see it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your addiction. It gives you the chance to really examine what behaviors, environments, events or people can lead to you to drink or use drugs.
Once you have returned to rehab or are receiving the support you need, you can examine why you relapsed. For instance, was there a stressful event that triggered use? Did you return to a place where you used before? Your therapist or counselor can help determine what happened so you can receive treatment to avoid these issues in the future.
Make a Plan for the Future
After a relapse,, it is time to rededicate yourself to your sobriety. It needs to be a top priority in your life and you need to seek sobriety for you, not because someone is pushing you to be sober. If you don’t really want to change, you will likely relapse again in the future.
Another key reason people relapse, according to multiple studies, is because they don’t receive addiction treatment for a long enough period of time. Make a plan with your treatment center for long-term care, whether that is an extended inpatient stay, intensive outpatient treatment, or attendance at support groups. The longer your treatment, the more likely you are to remain sober.
Though relapses are not a sign of ineffective treatment, you might also explore new types of therapy during your return to rehab. For instance, cognitive behavioral therapy may give you the tools you need to handle triggers in the future. Family therapy can help you work through relationship challenges that contribute to your use. Talk to your counselor to learn if it would be appropriate to add these treatments to your recovery plan.
If you feel your previous treatment center did not provide the right support for you or you do not have someone you trust at that center, consider seeking out help from a different center. A new approach may be what you need to avoid relapses in the future.
At Harmony Place, we can help you get back on track after a relapse. We offer compassionate, long-term support, including support groups and outpatient therapy, to try to reduce your risk of a relapse in the future and help you maintain sobriety. We offer a caring, empathetic environment so you can receive the treatment you need.
If you have experienced relapse, get help now. Contact us at 1-888-789-4330 at any time day or night for assistance.