avoiding relapse in recovery

4 Tips for Getting Past Relapse

Published on December 18, 2019 by First Responder Wellness

One of the most common fears during and after seeking treatment for addiction is the fear of relapse.  The term relapse is used when someone who has entered recovery from addiction begins using again. Reasons for relapse vary widely, and the extent to which a person relapses is also unique to each individual.  Many people believe that relapse equates to failure, or that by using drugs or alcohol again they are starting back at square one after all their hard work. This doesn’t have to be the case. For some people, relapse is a normal part of the recovery process.  It is important to avoid relapse if at all possible because using can be dangerous for the addict, and is likely to hurt those around them. Relapse also means it is time to get to work, so avoiding relapse entirely is essentially choosing the path of least resistance, even though it may not feel that way at the time.  However, if you have relapsed, the experience can be used as a tool to strengthen your sobriety and better inform your choices going forward.

Understand the What and Why

The first questions you should answer for yourself after experiencing a relapse, are “What is a relapse?” and “Why do they occur?”.  It is important to understand that a relapse is a setback, not the end of the road. Using again, especially after completing a treatment program and putting in hard work, can be devastating to the user and their loved ones.  However, all past recovery work still stands, and the relapse serves as a signal that more work needs to be done. After relapse, it is important to take some time to analyze the factors that brought you to using. You may want to meet with a therapist or addiction counselor to discuss any unforeseen obstacles you encountered in your sobriety that you can better prepare for the next time around.  Treatment usually involves providing you with tools and resources to nurture a sober lifestyle in the real world, but it is up to you to put those tools to use.

Reach Out

Relapse can put you into a depressive emotional state and also make you feel embarrassed and alone.  Even though it might be difficult, it is important during this time to reach out to people who support you and professionals who can help.  Speak with your friends and family about your relapse, letting them know that you intend to continue working on your recovery. Your loved ones may be angry or hurt by your relapse, but it is important that they know that you have not given up and that you intend to keep your promises to them in the future.  You should also check in with every facet of the support network you have built in recovery. This may include a therapist, an addiction counselor, a sponsor, and group support meeting members. It can feel shameful to discuss relapse with these people, but know that they have seen it many times before, and they know best how to use the experience of relapse for positive change.

Recommit to Your Recovery

Often, a relapse occurs because you weren’t entirely invested or certain about a sober lifestyle.  Sometimes a relapse is what it takes to remind you of all the ways that drugs and alcohol have harmed your life and hurt those around you, and it can serve as the extra push you need to reaffirm your commitment to sobriety.  Speak with your support system about your decision to recommit, and ask them to help you implement changes that support your sobriety. Remember that remaining only halfway committed to your recovery may land you on a perpetual roller coaster of emotional highs and lows, and a sober lifestyle is unlikely to stick.  While there are endless resources to remind you why sobriety is the best choice, committing to your recovery and doing the hard work is up to you, and you alone.  

Consider Treatment

Reentering treatment is not necessarily the solution for every individual that experiences a relapse.  Your course of action should depend on your specific circumstances, and the professionals at a treatment center can help you decide what is best for you.  If you do decide to seek another round of treatment, know that it is nothing to be ashamed of. Addiction is a complex disease that affects your body and mind in ways that can’t be easily undone.  Asking for additional care to find freedom from addiction once and for all is the most responsible and courageous choice you can make if you decide it is what you need to recover.  

The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses.  We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers, and that existing stigmas may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially difficult.

Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career or a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships.  By taking a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction, Simple Recovery makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing. First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community, and at Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we believe in dedicating our time and expertise to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490