Recovering From a Relapse

Recovering From a Relapse

You made it through recovery, but a minor misstep or temptation led you to a relapse. After sobriety, relapse into drug or alcohol use may make you feel embarrassed or discouraged.

It’s important to remember a relapse doesn’t mean that you or your addiction treatment has failed. Learning the steps to take after a relapse can help get you back on the right track and the road to a permanent recovery.

Change Your Mindset About Relapsing

Rather than view your relapse as a personal or moral failure, change how you think about it. Understand that your return to substance abuse is just a mistake or a slip-up, and remind yourself of this fact when you start thinking negatively about your recovery.

Viewing your relapse this way makes you less prone to abandoning your recovery and improves your chances of getting back on track. Acknowledging that you made a mistake and taking responsibility for it are essential factors in your continued recovery.

Changing your mindset allows you to view your relapse as a learning opportunity. It helps you identify areas and life skills that you still need to work on. It helps you understand what you’re up against outside the treatment center and motivate you to make the necessary changes.

Reflect on Your Emotions and Actions

Reflect on Your Emotions and ActionsAfter a relapse, it’s common to feel a mix of emotions. You may be experiencing intense feelings of guilt, humiliation, or shame following your relapse. Instead of hiding from these emotions, use them as motivation in your path back to recovery.

It’s also important to reflect on the actions and factors that contributed to your relapse. You have to identify factors that led to your relapse to prevent the same things from triggering another relapse in your future. Environmental triggers, relationships, and emotions are all important factors to consider.

Being around certain places, objects, or people are environmental factors that can contribute to your relapse. Ask yourself if you’ve been spending time with the wrong crowd. Do your friends and workers support your sobriety, or does their behavior encourage substance use?

Pay attention to how your actions and emotions affected your relapse. Did you skip out on sobriety meetings or relax your recovery efforts? Maybe you started feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities or stressed out about the decisions you were making? Understanding how they contributed to your relapse lets you identify behaviors and thought patterns you can change in the future.

Get Support

You don’t have to handle your relapse alone. If you’ve fallen into old patterns, it’s a sign you weren’t receiving the support you needed. After your relapse, reach out to your sponsor, a trusted friend or family member, or an addiction counselor for help. Receiving positive social support from loved ones and groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) aids in your continued recovery from substance abuse.

Admitting you slipped up to people who care about you and are invested in your sobriety may be difficult, but it’s an essential step on your road to recovery. Meet with them in person if you can, but you can also contact them by phone, email, or text if you need to. The critical step is to make contact and let them know you’re struggling so you can get the support and resources you need.

Consider Returning to Treatment

Consider Returning to TreatmentRecovery from your addiction is a long-term process that may require more than your initial stay at an addiction treatment center. It’s not uncommon for people to relapse and need additional services. Depending on the severity of your relapse, you may need inpatient or outpatient care.

If your relapse was a minor slip-up, you may not need more than post-treatment aftercare services that are performed as outpatient counseling. People who experience more severe or long-lasting relapses may want to return to more intensive inpatient addiction treatments.

Treatment doesn’t have to mean going back to a rehab facility. You can also seek treatment through behavioral therapies that help treat addiction and relapses. This includes cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and therapies that use positive reinforcement strategies to manage your recovery.

This type of treatment helps you address underlying problems and make the necessary changes for your recovery.

Don’t Get Stuck in a Cycle of Addiction

While seeking additional treatment after your relapse may be necessary, you don’t want to get caught in the relapse then rehab cycle. A person in this situation is often not fully committed to their sobriety and is more likely to experience continued relapses.

The pattern of repeated relapse and treatments becomes a compulsive behavior and takes a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

This is why it’s important to take every relapse and treatment seriously. Understanding what led to your relapse and being committed to making changes to your life to prevent further relapses can help you avoid this pattern.

How Right Path Addiction Centers Helps

If you’ve suffered from a relapse of your addiction, Right Path Addiction Centers is here to help you. We understand addiction is a chronic brain disease that can trap addicts in a destructive cycle of addiction. Our staff understands the difficulty of treating addiction and that relapsing after treatment is common.

Our addiction treatments and counseling services help our patients learn to forgive themselves for their relapse while developing healthy habits to aid in their recovery.


Written by Sergey Zhitar, MD Medical Director

Native of Moldova, Dr. Zhitar is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine as well as Internal Medicine and completed his training at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA in 2000.

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