When someone relapses in recovery, they often feel like they’ve failed and let their loved ones down. While relapse is an unfortunate part of the recovery process for some, it is definitely not failure. The work you’ve put into recovery isn’t erased, and you don’t necessarily have to start over.
Instead, relapse is a bump in the road and a clear indication that you need more support. Rather than going back to inpatient treatment, for example, you can choose a more flexible drug or alcohol outpatient program. This way, you can still work and maintain your responsibilities while having access to more support.
What you do after a relapse is what’s most important. Let’s explore actional steps to help you reclaim your life, find your purpose and continue a successful healing journey.
Reach Out for Help
The first thing to do after a relapse is get help. It doesn’t matter what form it’s in – you can reach out to your sponsor, a trusted friend, a family member, an addiction specialist or someone else. As long as the person is sober and supports your sobriety, they will get you to where you need to be.
Also, it’s important to note that this step is crucial to getting you back on track. You can’t just ‘ignore’ a relapse and assume you won’t use again. This is a slippery slope that can put you right back into the cycle of addition. Again, if you relapse, seek help immediately.
Increase Meeting Attendance
When people feel themselves gravitating towards relapse, they often step up their meeting attendance. Attending meetings reminds you of why you’ve chosen sobriety and gives you the motivation to continue. They can be an invaluable tool during these times when you’re fighting to get back on track.
Remember, there are meetings all over. If you don’t feel that you’re getting enough from one meeting, try another. Each meeting is independently run, so there are differences between them. You may find that you ‘click’ better with one group over another, so don’t be afraid to seek out other meetings.
Reflect on Your Values and Goals
One slip-up does not mean you’ve lost what’s important to you. But if you keep using, this can happen. So, after a relapse, it’s important to reflect on your core values and long-term goals. Why did you get sober in the first place? What truly matters to you? This self-reflection will serve as your compass, guiding you toward decisions and actions aligned with your authentic self.
Ask for Support from Family and Friends
Usually when someone relapses, it means they need more support. Whether you choose to attend more meetings, start an outpatient rehabilitation program or get back into therapy, one thing is for certain: you need your friends and family to support you.
Friends and family can also fill your time with healthy activities. Boredom is a main trigger for relapse, so ask your social network to introduce you to new hobbies like sports, exercising, painting, cooking, music and so forth. Or, consider volunteering with a friend or family member, helping animals, children, older adults or families in your community.
Lighten Your Load
You need time to heal and recover from a relapse, as well as reassess how to move forward. Now is not the time to add to your plate. Instead, you should focus on lightening your load. This may mean decreasing your hours at work or stepping down from a leadership position. While this can feel like you’re going backwards in your recovery, you are not.
The purpose of lightening your load is to prevent burnout. You can focus on your priorities, and your recovery is first. Once you get back on track, you can gradually take on more responsibility, but be careful not to overdo it. The first year of recovery is when you are most fragile.
Give Your Body What it Needs
Taking care of your physical health is just as important as taking care of your mental health. Listen to your body and give it what it needs. Eat healthy foods, get plenty of restful sleep and make time for physical activity in some capacity every day. When your body is strong and healthy, it’s better equipped to fight off stress and maintain sobriety.
Also, leave yourself time to focus on relaxing activities like reading, meditating and deep breathing. Be sure to apply your coping skills when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up. Recovering from a substance use disorder is one of the hardest things to do – and you are doing it.
Get Back on Track after Relapse with Pura Vida Recovery
Reclaiming your life is a courageous and empowering journey. By reflecting on your values, seeking support, prioritizing self-care and embracing change, you can gradually rebuild a life that aligns with your authentic self.
Pura Vida Recovery offers a wide range of addiction support services to help you on your path to sobriety, including outpatient treatment, friends and family support and sober living houses. Contact us today so that we can support you on your journey, in the way that you need.