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Recover from Relapsing: What to Do After an Addiction Relapse
If you have relapsed after a prolonged time being abstinent from drugs or alcohol, it can feel like a failure. However, a relapse is not the worst thing in the world. Addiction is a disease for which there is no cure, only management. When you fall off the wagon, it’s just a setback that is a common part of the recovery process for many people. Resolving to recover from a relapse allows you to move on and commit to a lifestyle and choices that support your sobriety, goals and overall happiness.
Get Back to Work
While it’s OK to give yourself a day or two to sober up and care for yourself, getting back to work and into your normal routine can help distract you from negative thoughts and emotions that may arise due to your relapse. As you return to your normal routine at work, prepare yourself for the inevitable work-related stress. For many people, workplace stress is a trigger toward a relapse of alcohol and drug abuse. Instead of letting your job get the best of you, have a plan in place to ward off temptations and support your sobriety. Establish healthy coping mechanisms for stress like exercising or keeping a journal. If you have a yard, consider starting a garden, as this activity has been shown to reduce stress, help alleviate feelings of depression, and improve immune response, among many other healthy benefits.
Admit You Relapsed
It’s hard to admit that you slipped up, but talking to a counselor, sponsor, or loved one can provide you with the support you need to get back on track. Know that you are not the first person to relapse and you will certainly not be the last. You are human and humans are imperfect. Yet as imperfect as we are, we thrive when we lean on each other. You deserve social support for your sobriety and wellbeing as much as anybody.
When you’re an addict, it’s common for loved ones to focus their anger and blame on your addiction when in fact they are angry at your actions. Their discontent is not so much about you’re abusing drugs or alcohol, but rather the things that your abuse leads you to do and the negligence it shows towards your own wellbeing. So while you may be afraid of telling your loved ones you’ve relapsed out of fear of their anger, know that they would much rather be told about the use so they can be there to support your sobriety going forward.
Look at the Big Picture
Once you’re feeling better, it’s important to step back and re-evaluate your sobriety strategy. Something did not work or else you would not have relapsed. What led to your use? Was it a difficult day at work? A fight with a loved one? Or, perhaps you were simply bored. Whatever it was, identify the emotional trigger so you will have more control the next time it occurs.
It may be time to reinforce your strategy with some new tools. If you are not seeing a professional therapist, consider finding one for help. Talk therapy may seem self-indulgent, but having a neutral party actively listen all the while offering supportive advice is ridiculously good for your mental health. People who go to therapy have better control over their emotions. Therapists help people stay accountable for their goals. They can help guide you down a road of self-discovery so you can find your purpose. And they walk with you step-by-step to dissect problems and come up with effective solutions.
Plus, you spent how long indulging yourself with drugs and/or alcohol. Why are you afraid of being a little self-indulgent with therapy when it means you’ll be a happier person in the end?
If you relapsed back into alcohol or drug abuse, it’s never too late to bounce back. Getting back into your routine as soon as possible is helpful, but prepare yourself on how to deal with common stressors like those you encounter at work. Admitting to your loved ones that you slipped up is difficult, but they can provide essential support for your recovery if you do. Finally, re-evaluate your sobriety plan and consider adding new tools like talk therapy to help manage negative thoughts and emotions that contribute to relapse.
This post is a guest post created and written by Rufus Carter:
Rufus Carter has been in recovery for 9 years. For the past 6 years, he has worked as a personal trainer. His website, recoveringworks.com, organizes resources for anyone in recovery who is trying to choose their career path. With the site, he hopes to help those in recovery create fulfilling and lucrative careers.
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.