In a perfect world, everyone who tried to quit an addiction would never slip back into their old habits. However, addiction is a disease that can stay with a person the rest of their life even if they think they have beaten it. Relapse is a reality that many people have to deal with but it doesn’t mean that sobriety isn’t possible for them.
If you have tried to quit in the past but started to get involved in substance abuse again then you are probably dealing with a lot of different emotions. People who relapse often feel ashamed, disappointed in themselves and less hopeful that they can ever be permanently sober. These feelings are normal and you can work through them as you start the process of getting back on track.
The important thing to remember is that even though you may have faltered it doesn’t mean that you can’t live a sober life in the future. It also doesn’t mean that you should learn to drink or use drugs moderately instead of being completely sober. The only thing you can do is start over again and get back into the routine of support groups, sober living and treatment if necessary.
Going Back to Meetings
It your choice whether you feel you want to enter a treatment center again or simply start going back to twelve step meetings. In most cases, it depends on the severity and length of the relapse. If you have been drinking or using drugs again for several years then attending treatment again might be a good option to start over with recovery.
For those that feel their relapse did not lead them to completely revert back to their old lifestyle, going to meetings every day, talking to loved ones and attending therapy sessions can be helpful in getting back on track. It is crucial to be completely honest with everyone about your relapse and avoiding hiding details that you might be ashamed about. If you are candid about the situation you have more opportunity to learn from the experience and get useful advice from others.
As you attend meetings daily make sure to talk with people who are on the right track with their sobriety and use them as an example. You can always ask what habits they use to stay sober and what they do when they are struggling with temptation. Although your relapse may feel like a failure, it is actually a chance to learn more about strategies for being sober and expand your knowledge.
While you are learning about sobriety from others think about what aspects of your habits contributed to you relapsing. What mistakes did you make in the past? Did you fail to set up an adequate support system or not make use of a sponsor?
Don’t dwell on the mistakes you made in the past but choose to learn from them so that you don’t repeat them in the future. Understanding what caused you to relapse and really analyzing what happened can help prevent it from happening again. Take the chance to really study what your triggers are and develop some new and better strategies for dealing with them.
Forgiving Yourself and Moving Forward
After you take the time to understand why you relapsed and what you need to change in the future you can work on forgiving yourself for what happened. People often feel a deep sense of shame and failure that can stay with them for some time after they relapsed. You should know that relapse is just something that happens to many people on the road to recovery even if they put in their best effort to be sober.
Recovery is simply a learning process and there are bound to be missteps and mistakes as you learn how to adapt to life as a sober person. Don’t beat yourself up about relapsing and accept that you are a human being and therefore are imperfect like everyone else. Have compassion on yourself and the situation you are in so that you don’t bring yourself down with negative feelings.
The positive thing about moving forward after a relapse is that you already have at least some experience being sober. You already understand the basic routine and simply need to make some adjustments so that you can maintain your sobriety. Try to simplify your life again and focus on the foundations of sobriety that you learned while you were in rehab.
Even though relapse can be a learning experience it is important not to dwell too much on the past and just try to move forward as much as possible. Think about the future and what you want to accomplish as a sober person. Make sure to surround yourself with support and focus on your daily goals so that you can keep moving forward on the road to sobriety.