Relapse can be a challenging reality that many individuals face when finding their way to recovery from addiction. However, it’s important to remember that relapse does not mean failure. Relapse presents another opportunity for growth. Recommitting to recovery means looking at your relapse to decipher what’s gone wrong. This is sometimes referred to as a relapse autopsy. You have to acknowledge that your efforts to control your addiction have failed.
In the simplest (and probably most useful!) terms: relapse means that there’s something I’m not doing that I need to learn to do – or something I am doing that I need to learn to not do. Learning what these relapse factors are for you can play a transformative role in your long-term sobriety.
- Mindful Self-Compassion: Relapse often brings feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame. However, by cultivating mindful self-compassion, you can approach yourself with kindness and understanding. Drawing from Eastern philosophical principles, mindfulness allows you to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment, recognizing that they are impermanent and not a reflection of your worth. By embracing self-compassion, you acknowledge that relapse is a part of the recovery process, and it is through these moments of adversity that true growth can occur. Cultivating self-compassion enables you to learn from your experience, forgive yourself, and move forward with renewed determination.
- Exploring the Root Causes: Relapse often highlights underlying issues that may have contributed to the setback. It is essential to delve deeper and explore the root causes of the relapse, addressing any unresolved emotional wounds, trauma, or unmet needs. Find a qualified addiction counsellor or experienced therapist that can help you gain insights into your underlying relapse. Once you’ve identified these they can help you to develop strategies to effectively manage them. Exploring the root causes of addiction provides an opportunity for profound self-discovery and healing. Appropriate addiction individual and group therapy can help you find healthier coping mechanisms and build a solid, long-term sustainable recovery.
When faced with relapse, it is crucial to approach the experience with self-compassion and a willingness to explore the underlying causes. Rather than viewing relapse as a sign of failure, recognize it as an opportunity for growth and an invitation to deepen your commitment to recovery. Seeking professional help, such as addiction counsellors or therapists, can provide the help you need to avoid relapse.
Gaining a deeper understanding of your challenges and finding ways to deal with them will serve your recovery well.
- Relapse Triggers: Identifying and understanding your unique relapse triggers is crucial. These triggers can be external, such as specific environments, people, or situations, or internal, such as emotional states, stress, or negative thought patterns. By recognizing your triggers, you can develop proactive strategies to avoid or manage them effectively. This may involve creating a relapse prevention plan, seeking support from your counsellor or therapist, or practising coping skills to navigate challenging situations.
- Building a Supportive Network: Surrounding yourself with a strong support network is essential for overcoming addiction relapse. This network includes trusted family members, friends, addiction counsellors, therapists, or support groups. Having people who understand recovery from addiction can offer much-needed direction. Our own thinking can never get us out of the mess our addiction has become. We need to hand it over to others and be open to their suggestions. The 12-Step programmes offer the critical accountability that recovering addicts need, and significantly contribute to your recovery. By engaging with a supportive network, you can lean on others during difficult times, share experiences, and gain valuable insights and perspectives.
- Developing Coping Strategies: Developing effective coping strategies is a key component of overcoming relapse. These strategies can include healthy ways to manage stress, such as engaging in mindfulness practices, physical exercise, creative outlets, or hobbies that bring you joy. Upskilling communication, boundary setting, and finding ways to self-care are new recovery tools. Maintaining emotional stability will better empower you to navigate difficulties that all humans face.
- Addressing Co-occurring Disorders: Many individuals facing addiction also struggle with co-occurring mental health disorders. It is essential to address these disorders alongside addiction treatment to achieve lasting recovery. Qualified dual-diagnoses professionals can help you understand the interconnectedness of addiction and mental health. If you have co-morbidity it’s very important to receive appropriate treatment for both conditions.
- Learning from Relapse: Relapse can be a powerful teacher. You can choose to approach relapse as an opportunity for growth. Reflect on the circumstances that led to the relapse, examine the emotions and triggers involved, and identify lessons learned. Introspection helps those in recovery to make adjustments along the way. Very little in life is set in stone and your recovery isn’t either. It’ll take continued tweaking to meet your needs. Doing this will strengthen your commitment to long-term sobriety.
By exploring these subtopics and engaging in an ongoing process of self-discovery, you can enhance your ability to overcome relapse and maintain your path towards lasting recovery. Remember, recovery is a process, and setbacks can provide valuable insights and opportunities for growth. Embrace these subtopics as tools to empower your recovery adventure, seeking advice when needed. You don’t have the strength or resilience to overcome relapse on your own. We need others to build a fulfilling and sober life.
The process of getting back on track and overcoming relapse to drugs or alcohol is a complex and challenging one, but it is also filled with potential for growth and transformation. As you navigate this journey, it is important to remember that relapse does not define your worth or your ability to recover. It is a setback that can be used as a stepping stone towards lasting sobriety.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” This quote reminds us that resilience and the ability to rise after a setback are the true measures of strength and courage. Embrace the lessons learned from relapse, and use them to fuel your determination and commitment to your recovery.
Seeking professional addiction treatment is crucial after relapse and to prevent further relapses. Addiction psychologists like Dr. Michael Niss can provide you with the tools, support, and insight necessary to overcome relapse and prevent future setbacks. They can help you navigate the complexities of addiction, identify triggers, and develop effective coping strategies. With assistance, you can establish a solid foundation for long-term sobriety.
Remember, recovery isn’t an event. It’s a process. Celebrate your progress, no matter how small, and acknowledge the challenges you have overcome. Embrace the support available to you and from professionals and those in recovery who can assist you to get back into recovery from addiction.
As you move forward, know that you are not alone. There are dedicated professionals who are ready to walk alongside you, providing the necessary direction. Take the courageous step of asking for help, and let the wisdom of those around you lead to a life where being clean and sober (great movie!) is better than drinking and using.
You deserve to get help. Your future recovery, your ability to learn from and overcome relapse and create a good life depends on this.