If you are a recovering drug or alcohol addict, any progress you make in your recovery journey is worthwhile. Occasionally, however, with increasing cravings, withdrawal pains, and stressful changing circumstances, you may find yourself in danger of a relapse. Should you relapse, don’t beat yourself up. A few stumbles on the road to recovery are to be expected. Instead, here are some things you should do to deal with a relapse.
Immediately talk to someone trustworthy
Start off by immediately taking steps to deal with your relapse. If you become downtrodden and sad, lost in your own head, you’ll become even more likely to continue to use. Instead, talk to a trusted family member or friend as quickly as possible. Explain the circumstances surrounding your relapse, including your emotional state and what specifically led you to use. A positive support network can do wonders for your mental health.
Seek out the help of a professional
Next, seek out professional help. A licensed therapist, counselor, or psychologist can help you in other ways than family or friends, particularly through helping you understand and deal with the emotions surrounding your relapse. A professional can also help you guide you toward positive habits that might prevent a relapse in the future.
One of the most important things to do when dealing with a relapse cannot be done by a friend, family member, or professional. You need to forgive yourself. While a relapse may be a stumbling block on the way to recovery, it is not the end of the world, nor does it define you as a person. Of people recovering from an addiction, 70 percent to 90 percent relapse at least once, and over half of the total number of recovering addicts relapse repeatedly. This is why recovery is often referred to as a process or a journey. For most people, remaining sober takes time, determination, and a positive attitude through repeated attempts. Similarly, your recovery journey does not start over after a relapse - it is a continuation. So take a moment to forgive yourself for your relapse, but try not to dwell on it. Then you can move forward and step back on the path toward recovery.
Adjust your sobriety strategy
Depending on the circumstances that led to the relapse, you may also need to adjust your sobriety strategy. If you still have long periods of unoccupied time each day, try to fill the space with a hobby or an exercise routine. Excess amounts of idle time often lead to boredom, apathy, and relapses. Exercise, though, releases positive chemicals in your brain that help you feel good. This can help counteract cravings and the depression of withdrawal. Similarly, healthy eating can help to heal your body from the damage caused by your addiction. A healthy body is important for a healthy mind.
Prevent future relapses by eliminating triggers
Once you’ve forgiven yourself, it’s time to take action. Most relapses are caused by the presence of drug- or alcohol-related paraphernalia, or by visiting places where drugs were acquired or used. You can begin by eliminating those triggers. If your triggers are based on a particular location, try not to visit that location. Do your best to stay away from temptation, which may include separating yourself from friends who still use, as they may be a negative influence on your recovery.
Once again, remember - when you relapse, talk to someone trustworthy, forgive yourself, then seek action to prevent it from happening again. The further you travel on your recovery journey, the more you will be able to conquer your cravings, ultimately becoming at peace with yourself.