What should I do if I relapse?

Getting sober is a positive step for anyone who has experienced substance addiction. You may have been successful in becoming sober for some time until you experience a relapse. When that happens, what should you do?

Here are some tips on what to do when you relapse:

1. Don’t feel defeated

Don’t beat yourself up too hard because, although unfortunate, relapse is a common experience while you are in the recovery process. What matters more is that you don’t give up the fight. If you could get on the right track once, you can do it again. Remind yourself of all the positives you felt in recovery, and start with affirmations, remember that you are worth it, and a hiccup doesn’t define your recovery

2. Find your trigger

You may experience a moment of weakness during the recovery that will cause a relapse. Identify what triggers you and the root cause so you can plan how to prevent it from happening again. It will help you lay the foundation of a recovery that will ensure that you get through this ordeal and bounce back. For many, emotions such as self-pity, guilt, shame, resentment, anger, sadness, hopelessness and others are a big trigger that leads to relapse. Now that you can identify what led you to use, you can plan how to deal with that situation or feeling when it comes up again. If it is a place you can’t avoid, you can plan to only go there with support. If it is an emotion or feeling, reach out to your support group when you start to feel that way again. You can always plan to meet people that may be triggering on mutual grounds like a coffee shop, where you will be less likely to act on impulse.

3. Notice your warning signs

To prevent a relapse, you must be aware of the red flags that will make you slip back to substance abuse. These include the lack of firm commitment to long-term sobriety, lack of support system, not wanting to quit for yourself, and lack of preparation for life after the treatment.

Staying sober requires hard work and a strong commitment. Don’t miss any appointment and take your consultations with complete seriousness. You also need to seek a strong support system from family and friends who will keep you accountable. You must quit for your own sake and not because you want to please the people around you. Find a strong reason why you want to be sober to reduce the risk of a relapse.

4. Do I need treatment again?

When you realize that you relapse, determine whether or not you need to return to the rehab facility for another round of treatment.  It is important that you take an honest self-assessment  on whether or not you can stay clean in the community. You may need to go back to an in-patient facility when you have returned to a pattern of substance abuse. 

On your second round of treatment, expect that you will have to undergo additional therapy sessions, including cognitive-behavioural therapy. You can also explore other options, such as music therapy, yoga, and physical fitness. Your focus will be on how you can transition back to a normal life. Treatment after a relapse may take a few months until you have developed positive habits that will keep you on a positive recovery journey. 

5. Forgive yourself, and ask for help

When you are feeling guilty and ashamed, you may tend to hide for fear of disappointing the people who care for you. However, the best thing to do is to seek help when you need it. There are support and treatment plans available that better suits your needs.

Call us at 604-451-9854 or 1-888-940-9854 to discuss how we can help you get back on the path.

David Penny

David Penny is Together We Can's Marketing and Media coordinator. Learn more about him & read his articles here.

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