5 Tips for Someone Who Has Relapsed

Relapse is a part of recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of those in recovery from a substance use disorder relapse. It’s common and nothing to be ashamed of. Your response to a relapse, however, is critical and could be the difference between long-term recovery and active addiction.

Those who relapse often struggle with shame and guilt. You likely want to get your recovery back on track, but that can be difficult if you don’t know where to turn for help. Follow these five tips to address your relapse properly and prepare yourself to succeed in long-term sobriety.

1. Hold Yourself Accountable

Your recovery is your own responsibility, so you must hold yourself accountable for your actions. Relapse is a part of recovery, but it is ultimately up to you to maintain your sobriety. Admitting that you have relapsed and realizing you need to take action is the first step to remedying the situation.

2. Find Support

It’s important to reach out to your support system immediately after a relapse. Asking your family, therapist, sponsor or friends for help frees you from addressing your relapse on your own. You’ll have a weight taken off your shoulders as the people who care about you assist in creating the best plan of action for your recovery.

3. Understand Why You Relapsed

Relapse is a breakdown in your recovery where a combination of triggers and your own line of thinking leads to substance use. Figure out why you used drugs or alcohol again, and think about your mindset and thoughts at the time. Try to recognize the environmental factors that could have affected your decision making. Understanding these factors may help you avoid another relapse in the future.

4. Find a Relapse Treatment Program

Getting professional treatment is the best way to ensure you get back to stable recovery after a relapse. Inpatient and outpatient treatment can help you rejuvenate your recovery and reach stability. After a relapse, it’s important to detox to remove all drugs from your body. Following detox, individual and group therapy provide opportunities to process what led to your relapse and understand how you can prevent it from happening again. Some rehab centers offer treatment programs specifically designed for people who want to return to active recovery after relapse.

5. Come up with a Relapse Prevention Plan

Continued support after treatment is the surest way to maintain long-term recovery. Working with your support system to devise a relapse prevention plan can ensure accountability and create a system that fosters your own sobriety. It can also keep you on track when you are tempted to break your sobriety. Your plan should include actionable steps to take when you find yourself in situations that could lead to a slip. You can also make a list of people to call when you experience a craving.

An unexpected relapse can be a setback in your recovery, but it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Consider it a learning experience that you can use to better understand yourself and your plan for a future in sobriety.

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