Relapse can be experienced like this: a momentary relief followed by a devastating emotional blow. All that hard work, it seems, for nothing.
Ever created a project on your computer only to have it fry on you, its contents gone forever? It was going along so well, you think. Why didn’t I take the necessary precautions to protect it?
Most people, at that point, become too angry at themselves, full of shame and criticism to start again. It’s not out of inability that they accept defeat; they still have the skills required to complete the task. Yet all those negative emotions create action-preventing excuses.
The alternative, of course, would be to simply do the work required. Sometimes the project turns out to be even better the second time around. You may have new ideas, realize something in the first version that could have been done differently, and find that your vigor has been renewed, even enhanced. You are determined to be successful.
The same applies to relapse as a perceived setback in your recovery. It’s unfortunate when we trip and stumble. It is magnificent when we get back up and resolve ourselves to make an even stronger effort the next time.
After a relapse, this advice can be tough to want to follow. You were sober, and now you are not, or you were not for some period of time. So why try to get and stay sober again?
Because you can.
Work with family, sober peers, a 12 step sponsor, your treatment facility or a therapist/counselor to analyze your relapse, and discover what may have led you there. Maybe it’s a friend, who, although nice, reminds you all too well of your days abusing drugs. Maybe you were pushing yourself too hard, or not hard enough, in school, work, activities. Once you have an understanding of how it happened, create a system for handling those triggers in the future. See this as an opportunity of gaining more insight about yourself and your disease, rather than a failure. Sobriety is a never-ending process. Sometimes relapse ends up being a part of that.
Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you’re dealing with the fallout of a relapse, contact our addiction counselors at The Last Resort for guidance and treatment options to get you back on track. Call 877-892-7997 today.