Relapse is common in addiction recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people relapse within a year of treatment. [https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery] The nature of addiction makes relapse common. It combines deeply ingrained habits, physical dependence, and neurological changes that all tend to keep you trapped in addictive behavior. A relapse is nothing to be ashamed of, and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. If you do relapse, here’s what to do next.
The first thing to do after a relapse is to reach out to someone you trust. It could be your sponsor, your therapist, your 12-Step group, a friend, or a relative. This can be hard. You may feel disappointed in yourself and you may fear that others will be disappointed in you. Regardless, you need help, so ask for it. One major benefit of building a sober network is so you have a support system in place when things go wrong. This is why coming back from a relapse doesn’t mean starting over from scratch.
Get sober again.
The next step is to get sober again as soon as possible. What that entails depends mainly on the severity of your relapse. If you only had a slip, such as getting drunk one night then regretting it the next day, getting sober again shouldn’t be too hard. Recommit to recovery and get to a meeting or talk to your therapist (or both) as soon as possible. If you have a full relapse that entails weeks or months of serious drug use or drinking, you may have to take more serious measures.
Analyze what went wrong.
After a relapse, it’s crucial to figure out what went wrong. Typically, relapse happens in three stages—emotional, mental, and physical. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/] The emotional stage is typically caused by neglecting self-care, skipping meetings, bottling up emotions, and becoming isolated. It is characterized by negative thinking, depression, and cynicism. It is also the point at which relapse is easiest to prevent. In mental relapse, you may start thinking about using again, glorifying past use, or even making a plan to use again. Lastly, physical relapse is the stage at which a person actually uses again. At this point, it’s harder to turn back and relapse may be just a matter of opportunity. Take a look at what happened and see if you can figure out what went wrong. Stress is often a factor in relapse but some people are surprised by the temptations of happy occasions, too. Go over what happened and look for patterns.
Adjust your recovery plan.
After you’ve analyzed what went wrong, adjust your recovery plan to account for it. That could mean focusing more on self-care, avoiding certain people, or going to more meetings. A common cause of relapse is making the transition from inpatient treatment to daily life too quickly. A longer time in treatment or more intensive transitional care may help you readjust to daily life better in the future.
At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 817-381-9741 or contact us through our admissions page.