Many people leave rehab filled with mixed emotions: fear, or nervousness about their ability to handle life sober. Hope and determination are also common. Many people are focused on doing the next right thing each time, confident that their new sobriety means they won’t relapse.
The truth is that anywhere from 40-60% of people who have gotten sober relapse and drink or use drugs again. Feeling guilty or ashamed after a relapse is common, but what you do afterward can make the difference between recovery and returning to active addiction.
Face the Relapse – Don’t Give Up
The guilt and shame for many people after relapse is overwhelming. You may feel like you let down your sponsor, your family, and even yourself. Avoidance is a common coping tactic for many addicts, so it’s not uncommon for someone who has relapsed to hide from their sober support network. A “shame circle” can quickly spiral for the addict and make them feel like their progress and hard work were for nothing.
To regain control after a relapse and the accompanying guilt, look at what happened. Can you identify what triggered the relapse? Was it just a slip, an isolated event that happened in a day or less? Or was it a true relapse where you make one mistake and then gave up, felt you failed, and went back to drinking?
Many people may feel like they aren’t ready for recovery or can’t be sober if they relapse. The truth is, you can use the relapse as a tool as long as you don’t give up.
How to Cope With Your Feelings after a Relapse
It’s hard to re-focus on recovery once the guilt and shame of a relapse kick in. If you aren’t sure how to cope with these feelings, talking with your therapist or a mentor with a longer period of sobriety can help. If you go to meetings, you may find non-judgmental support and good advice for getting back on track.
Remember these tips, whether you have a slip or a relapse:
- Forgive yourself. You can’t start learning from your relapse until you let go of the negative “self-talk”
- Don’t give up – relapse isn’t uncommon, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t go back to being active in recovery
- Re-commit to your sobriety, and hold yourself accountable. Talk to a counselor or your sponsor and find a way to re-engage with your recovery process as soon as possible
- Learn from the relapse. How were you feeling in the hours or days preceding the relapse? Often, people discover a trigger they didn’t realize would be so powerful
Do you need more, or better, support? Did you stop attending meetings or therapy sessions because you felt you could do it on your own? Sometimes a relapse indicates that you don’t have the right support or need better coping skills. A relapse can teach you a lot if you’re honest with yourself enough to learn from it. Being humbled is normal in recovery, and a slip doesn’t mean you are a failure or are not good enough to maintain your sobriety.
Learn More About Relapse and Recovery With Hickory Treatment Centers
If you’re concerned about your drug or alcohol use or if you’ve recently relapsed after a period of sobriety, we can help. Hickory Treatment Centers offers a variety of addiction therapy programs, including Intensive Outpatient Treatment and relapse prevention plans as part of your therapy with certified addiction counselors. Contact us today to learn how our programs can help get you back on the path to sobriety.