Have you given it your all to break free from drugs or alcohol only to have your addiction strike again? Statistics show that 40 to 60 percent of drug addicts relapse.
This fact may be discouraging, but I urge you to look at it this way; you’re not alone in your struggle and relapse doesn’t mean utter defeat. After all, there know plenty of recovering addicts who enjoy happy, successful, substance-free lives. A relapse is a setback and by no means the death of your recovery. However, this is not an excuse; a relapse can have serious consequences and it could be your last for the worst reason possible. So please stand up, dust yourself off, learn from it and push back into recovery. Here are 5 steps to a comeback after relapse.
1. Surround Yourself with the Right People
After a relapse, you may hear the phrases, “We knew this would happen,” or “You just threw away all of your efforts.” Those words could come from family, loved ones and especially yourself. These statements may crush your resolve, poison you with hopelessness and convince you that recovery is out of reach. You might be tempted to withdraw from your recovery network because of shame and stigma. The only thing that will take away the shame and guilt is trying again. See relapse as an opportunity to start anew; use it as fuel to propel yourself forward. Take a good look at the people around you and make sure they are positive for your recovery. Call your AA or NA sponsor, meet with your therapist, volunteer to help others, and spend time with people who support, encourage, and uplift you.
2. Start Your Recovery Program
A relapse doesn’t mean you have to throw away the activities and strategies you used before to stay clean and sober. Grab your journal and write about your relapse triggers and the emotions behind them. Discuss them. Face them with honesty. Don’t let yourself sink into a guilt trap. What’s done is done and it’s time to work on never doing it again! Tie your sneakers and hit the track, basketball court, or hiking trail for some exercise. Sweat it out. Meditate and try a yoga or tai chi class. Just get back at it full force! Recovery is often a process of trial and error, so keep exploring new tactics until you create an arsenal of tools that work for you.
3. Focus on Life
Self-pity can turn into an addiction all on its own and it accomplishes absolutely nothing. It’s in the past, a new day has dawned, and you have recovery to focus on. All of the reasons you wanted recovery before are still very much alive. Along with your recovery, dedicate time to hobbies and practices that matter to you. Walk your therapeutic pet, tidy up your living space and exercise. If you treat yourself right and work towards expanding your horizons in all areas of life, the grip of your addiction won’t seem so overwhelming.
4. Record Signs of Hope
Relapse can be a dark, dank place. Refuse to linger there. Everybody fails; true strength and progress comes from picking yourself back up. On this journey, look for signs of hope that encourage you to take a fresh look at your life. Marvel at being alive and having another chance. Be thankful because you can make the decision not to use a substance again. Read testimonies from other recovering addicts. AA or NA meetings are a wonderful source of hope full of recovery warriors young and old. You’ll find that others have triumphed over relapse and you can too.
5. Take Each Day Moment by Moment
There’s no going back, but you do have this moment. Focus on it. Make a choice right now to make calls, read recovery literature, go to a meeting or buy much-needed groceries instead of mulling over the relapse or fearing it’ll happen again in the future. Stay clean and sober this moment, string a few such moments together, and before you know it, you’ll have reached sobriety milestones. One day at a time.
A relapse is a temporary setback and does not doom you to a life of active addition. I know you can make a comeback. Learn from this. Use it as fuel for your recovery fire. Forgive yourself and vow to get it right. You deserve recovery, and with dedication and the right footwork, you can make it happen!