Getting sober for the first time brings you a sense of accomplishment and freedom that makes life more enjoyable. You may have celebrated your first week, month, or even year of being sober, and you are already feeling the positive effects of taking better care of your health. As frustrating as it is to relapse, the truth is that it is more common than many people know.
The majority of people who get sober will eventually encounter a relapse, much like they would with any chronic condition. The good news is that you don’t have to let a brief slip up ruin all of your hard work. Knowing what to do when you relapse is just as important as all of the other things you have learned in your addiction treatment.
What is a relapse?
The simplest definition of relapse is when a person has started using drugs or alcohol again after a period of being sober. However, many people are unaware that there are two different types of relapses. A traditional relapse involves making a conscious decision to return to your old habits. This might occur during a period of stress or when you are exposed to a trigger. A freelapse happens when you use drugs or alcohol unintentionally. This could happen if you drink a beverage at a party that you thought was non-alcoholic.
Figuring out what to do when you relapse often requires you to think about what happened that led up to the event. If it was unintentional, it could still spark cravings. You might also want to plan for preventing this in the future, such as only attending social events that prohibit drugs and alcohol.
A traditional relapse will usually involve reevaluating your coping methods for underlying mental health issues or dealing with stress. You may also need to reconsider how well your living situation supports sobriety. Some people need to return to treatment after a relapse or set up new accountability methods such as frequent drug or alcohol testing. This is perfectly okay, and seeking support can help you regain your freedom from addiction.
How to Deal With Relapse In Recovery
The best way to begin getting sober again is to get in the right mindset. A relapse may leave you feeling guilty, frustrated, or even embarrassed. These negative emotions do nothing for helping you to get back on track with sobriety. Instead of ruminating on your sense of failure, try to view this as a brief lapse in judgment. Everyone makes mistakes, and your sober support team can help you turn this into a learning opportunity.
As soon as you recognize that you are relapsing, reach out to a sober friend or mentor to start talking about what happened. Hearing from someone else that you can still get sober gives you the confidence to review your recovery plan and make changes that prevent relapse from happening again. Your sober support team can help you improve your mental outlook by recommending activities that keep you busy and make it easier to stay distracted from your triggers and cravings.
Managing Addiction Triggers
A huge part of understanding what a relapse is is learning that one typically begins after being exposed to a trigger. A trigger can be something as simple as encountering your old dealer as you take a walk around the neighborhood, or you might pick up on a scent or visual cue that reminds you of your former habits. Avoiding addiction triggers is the best way to prevent another relapse from happening, but this is not always possible. Your next temptation could be an unavoidable stressful event such as an argument or financial challenge. This is why revamping your recovery plan is critical after a relapse. Adding new strategies to your plan can renew your motivation to stay sober and help you cope with changing circumstances.
Find Fun Ways to Focus on Getting Sober Again
The best way to figure out how to deal with relapse in recovery is to look at this time in your life as a chance to add some new and fun activities that make it easier to ignore triggers and cravings. Did you slip up at a social event? If so, you can still nurture your need for socialization by making new friends who enjoy doing activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol. It is hard to do drugs if you are busy hanging out with people who are all committed to staying sober. This might also be a time to start volunteering in the community or serving as an active member of a sober living home. Finding your place in a sober community gives you support while reaffirming why you have chosen to get back on track after your relapse.
Get Help with NRhythm
NRhythm is a supportive sober living community that is dedicated to helping people prevent relapse. In Nashville, TN, our professional recovery team is passionate about making sure that everyone feels strong enough to overcome their addiction and discover the best versions of themselves. To get started on your recovery journey, reach out to us today.