After slogging through treatment and detox for substance abuse to get to a place of sobriety and recovery, a sudden relapse can be devastating and leave you feeling confused and angry.
This is natural, of course, and any recovering alcoholic or addict will tell you that it’s natural, normal, and not the end of the world. The important thing to do is not look back in regret, but look forward at how you can stand back up and prevent this from happening again in the future.
Standing Back Up
Relapsing once does not mean all is lot and you’re suddenly a drug addict again. If you used and realize that you messed up, immediately get yourself into a safe place where you can get help to avoid using any more. This can be rehab or a friend’s couch. Just somewhere safe that will allow you to detox the chemicals you just put in your body and keep you from consuming any more. You have to get back up onto the road of recovery.
Understand What Happened
With some deep and trustworthy communication with a loved one or counselor, examine the triggers that led up to your relapse. What social cues or personal situations contributed to the event. Identifying the triggers and thought process that led to a relapse will help you form a strategy for avoiding or managing these triggers in the future.
After you map out some of the factors that contributed to your relapse, the next step is to brainstorm how you might avoid or deal with those triggers should they arise again in the future. If it was seeing an old friend you used to use with, maybe you commit to only visiting that person in the presence of a trusted sponsor. If it was driving by the corner where your dealer stands, you decide not to take that route anymore. You have to structure your life around the compulsions and weaknesses of your inner addict in order to guide your sobriety across the obstacle course of temptations.
The best way to avoid relapse or bounce back from one is to have a support network. You can go to meetings or talk to a sponsor but you need support to help you stay on track, otherwise you’re alone in your own head and the voices there can talk you into a lot.
Stay focused and don’t lose hope. This is just a stumbling block and there's always an opportunity to get back up after relapse. A little slip is not the end of your recovery, it’s just a part of it. A single step as you climb the mountain.