If you’ve made a commitment to sobriety and then you experience a relapse, you might feel disappointed, angry, frustrated, or sad. You might even begin to feel like you’ve lost hope, as though it’s going to be difficult to get back on the road to recovery.
Coming Back from a Relapse in Recovery
There is a way to start anew after relapse. In fact, you can make your relapse work for you instead of against you. Here’s how:
- Don’t beat yourself up. Relapse is something almost everyone in recovery experiences at least once. About 80% of people who are in recovery relapse within the first year. So, don’t beat yourself up, if you are. Instead, make it a point to make a fresh start.
- Use the relapse experience as a learning opportunity. Your relapse could be a turning point, depending upon how you look at it. Knowing that relapse is normal can help you use it as a learning experience for strengthening your sobriety.
- Recommit to sobriety. So you’ve fallen off the horse. All you need to do now is brush yourself off and get back on. Recommit to your goals. In fact, you might want to write down who or what you’re staying sober for. It could be your children, career, or your marriage. Get in touch with what’s motivating you and recommit to your recovery.
- Amp up your support. Now that you’re recommitted, double your attendance to 12-step meetings. If you were going once per week, go twice. If you were going once a day, attend one in the morning and another in the evening. You may want to also make a list of all those who are supporting you and who you can call when you feel yourself starting to give into cravings. When people feel supported, they have hope, courage, and inner strength with which to face challenges like cravings.
Tips to Help You Stay on the Road to Recovery
These are a few suggestions for turning relapse into a reason to strengthen your recovery. Once you’re back on track, here are a few more tips to keep you on the road to recovery:
- Learn relaxation techniques. When you can learn how to relax, you will tend to feel less anxious and overwhelmed by life’s stresses. And in turn, you will be less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
- Know your triggers. When you are triggered (by certain people, places, or things) you may turn to substances to cope with your feelings. However, if you know ahead of time what your triggers are, you can prepare ahead of time as well as utilize the support you have.
- Take care of yourself. When you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising, your psychological along with your physical well being is better supported. Learning to take care of yourself is one of the biggest challenges for recovering addicts. But once you’ve got it down, you’re more likely to maintain your sobriety.
Also, keep in mind that if you can establish a regular schedule of taking good care of yourself and attending recovery-related meetings and appointments, you’re likely to stay sober longer. And the longer you can stay sober, the greater the chance you’ll be able to continue your sobriety. In fact, according to a Harvard University research study, if a person can stay sober for five years, relapse is rare.