You Are Not A Failure

Relapse does not mean failure. You have been through rehab, and you have finally left the rehabilitation center to venture out into the world again. You are focused on establishing a new life for yourself and one that is free from drugs or alcohol. You have made a commitment to yourself, and you are proud of your success.

Suddenly, something happens, and you have a relapse. Maybe it was just one thing, and maybe it was a binge for a few days, maybe you even lost a month of your life back to addiction. This does not mean that your sobriety is over. It also does not mean that you are a failure or that you cannot overcome your addiction. It simply means that you are human.

There is an old saying: “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” When you have a relapse, forgive yourself and seek the necessary help to enter back into sobriety. You can call a friend or your substance abuse counselor or a family member for support. Go back to the addiction recovery center for more treatment if necessary – but never give up. Everyone makes mistakes; everyone can have a relapse. It is what you do afterward that makes the difference.

Common Events That May Trigger A Relapse

There are many situations that could trigger a relapse. Knowing these situations and their potential to bring on a relapse will allow you to focus more on staying sober when they occur. You can even make plans on what to do in the event that something happens that triggers the cravings for using drugs or alcohol again.

  •  Negative Emotional Events:
    Arguments, anger, trauma, sadness, and high amounts of stress can all trigger the desire to “escape.” During rehab, you learned different coping mechanisms for when these events occur. Try using these methods or find something of your own that can divert your thoughts from the situation and the need to feel better through using drugs or alcohol.
  • Physical Pain:
    Many addictions start as a way to manage physical pain. In addition to regular medical care, seek some alternative therapies such as meditation, yoga, or even light therapies to help manage your condition.
  • Social Pressures:
    You can find yourself in social situations where friends or family members are not respecting your sobriety and encouraging you to “just have one.” This is one of the most difficult situations because you do not want to offend a loved one or friends, but you also do not want to break sobriety.
  • Boredom:
    Many people do not realize how much time their addiction took up each day. Once the addiction is gone, there is a lot of extra time. Filing that time with meaningful things can help you fight the temptation to start using again.
  • Major Life Event:
    Happy events are also a risk when you first enter sobriety. Attending a wedding, getting a job promotion, even a family reunion can all be tempting places to break sobriety. With time, celebrations become easier, but there is always a risk for a relapse.
  • A Test of Will:
    Sometimes a person who has entered sobriety gets a craving for the high that they used to experience prior to going to drug rehabilitation. It happens to everyone. It is important to remember that your brain can make you feel the craving very strongly and allow you to start making justifications for wanting to use your preferred substance. You will tell yourself, “just once won’t hurt” or “I will only use a little bit, not like I used to use.” It is critical to remember that even once is still considered a relapse.

There are other situations, of course, that can trigger a relapse. Every relapse is very personal, just like the trigger that caused it to happen. Part of the recovery process is discovering what triggers your cravings and how to handle those situations when you are sober.

Relapse Is Not The End of Sobriety

Although it has already been stated, having a relapse does not put an end to your sobriety. It is an experience along the way. If you take a step back in sobriety, the great news is you can still take a step forward.

checkbox checkbox Residential Treatment Intensive Outpatient IOP Day Treatment Respite