Nobody hopes for a setback, but sometimes they happen anyway. Life is full of surprises, and human beings are not perfect. For those in recovery from substance abuse or addiction, a relapse can be especially upsetting. However, it does not necessarily mean recovery is over. With the help of addiction or substance abuse counseling, it is possible to get back on track.
When a relapse occurs, skip the unproductive act of beating yourself up. Instead, take corrective action right away:
- Refocus. Your mind (and even body) may be racing. Take a few deep breaths and recall why you got on the road to recovery to begin with. If you have them, return to notes or journal entries about your first steps. Notice how far you have come already.
- Regroup. Set up a counseling appointment, attend group therapy or get to a 12-step meeting if it is part of your program – the sooner, the better.
- Reach out. Your support system is there for a reason. Those close to you will consider it a privilege to help during a time of need. Call or visit someone you trust and talk to him or her about what has happened.
- Restart. Begin recovery again today; do not wait.
- Reassure yourself. Relapse causes feelings of shame. When you address these feelings, you diminish their power and break the ongoing cycle of shame and abuse.
- Repair relationships. Address any issues that the relapse may have caused between you and loved ones.
- Reflect. What triggers and red flags led to the relapse? Think about where, when and with whom it happened. Write down your observations in order to identify patterns that can be avoided in the future.
If you follow these steps, you will turn your relapse into a learning experience. Instead of dooming you to failure, it becomes part of the process of positive self-transformation.