Relapse is one of the most frustrating, crushing experiences that any recovering drug addict can face. It can leave you feeling so guilty and ashamed that you may even consider turning to drugs again because what’s the point in trying to stop? But you shouldn’t think that way. The unfortunate reality is that relapse is incredibly common during and after rehab. In fact, an estimated 40-60% of addicts in recovery relapse at least once during treatment. Many people go on to relapse several times before reaching a full recovery. So, take some comfort in knowing that relapse actually is quite common. If you go through relapse yourself, there are a few ways you can handle it and prevent it from happening more than once.
Use Your Support System
It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a small relapse or a big one. The first step after the fact should always be getting in touch with your addiction counselor, sponsor, support group or any combination of them. Schedule a face-to-face meeting at the earliest possible opportunity. Opening up and admitting that you slipped up is going to be difficult, but your support system is there for you for a reason. It’s their job to help you see your recovery through to sobriety, but they can’t do that unless you’re honest with them about relapsing. It’ll be hard, but you can do it.
Lean on Loved Ones
This may also be tough, especially if your addiction has hurt your loved ones in the past, but getting support from friends and family at such a low point is critical for any recovering drug addict. When you approach loved ones with what happened during your relapse, be open and honest, just as you would be with the rest of your support system. Your loved ones are here to support you.
Consider Returning to Rehab for More Treatment
Returning to rehab isn’t always necessary. It usually depends on how long the relapse lasted and how severe it was. For example, if you are recovering from an addiction to cocaine and got high on it only once in a single night after completing rehab, you may not need to check yourself back in. However, if you’ve been regularly using for a week or so, you should return to inpatient treatment if at all possible. Every addiction is different, and so every path to recovery is different. If you are worried after a single-night relapse, consider aftercare or other therapy services offered by some addiction treatment centers.
Don’t Think of Relapse as a Failure
Despite popular belief, relapse is not by any means a regression or a step backward. As mentioned previously, many people relapse during their recovery processes. So, instead of thinking of relapse as a failure, you should think of it as a step closer to your end goal so that it won’t be in vain.
Think About What Happened and Why
By talking to your support group and going over what happened with them, you can better understand what might have prompted your relapse. Ask yourself, before the relapse:
- What strategies were working? Why?
- What strategies weren’t? Why not?
- Which coping mechanisms were the most effective? Why?
- Which coping mechanisms were the least effective? Why not?
- Did you make any changes to your relapse prevention plan before relapsing? If so, what were they? Did you follow the changes?
After going over all of these things with your support group, you should go on to examine the circumstances surrounding the relapse itself in more detail. For instance, you should ask yourself:
- What happened (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.)?
- Could you have prevented relapsing?
- What do you think triggered the relapse?
By going over these details with your support system, you’re rebuilding your relapse prevention plan to be stronger for the future.
Moving Forward as a Recovering Drug Addict with Wellness
Going through life as a recovering drug addict is already hard enough, so we understand that relapsing feels like defeat. But it’s not the end of the world. It’s normal. If anything else, it’s an opportunity for more growth. Coming forward for help after suffering through a relapse speaks not only to your character as a person but also to your commitment to becoming sober for life. So, let relapse give you motivation instead of taking it away. At Wellness Recovery Center, we understand and empathize with the struggles of recovering drug addicts out in the world after leaving treatment. Just remember, our team and our treatments are always here if you need us. Call us anytime at 888-821-0238 if you are a recovering drug addict going through a relapse. We’re here for you.