Recovery is a process, and for some – relapse may be a part of that process. A relapse should never be an excuse to give up or assume that your recovery program is not working. For a person who is practicing a sober lifestyle, a relapse is a very real setback and can be disheartening. Especially when the recovering person has been making steady progress, a return to a short-term residential treatment program can stop what may become a downward spiral.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has determined, “Between 40 to 60 percent of people who’ve been treated for addiction or alcoholism relapse within a year, according to a 2014 study…” The reasons vary for each person addicted to drugs or alcohol, but most commonly include:
- a failure to make a relapse prevention plan
- reckless behavior involving people, places, or things
- a response to triggers – emotions, relationships, or situations
The good news is that this does not signal a failure of your alcohol or drug treatment program. Actually, relapse and recovery can work hand in hand – giving you greater insight into an area that needs more of your attention and often additional help from your rehab counselors or recovery support group.
What to Do If You Relapse
Don’t Keep it a Secret
Your goal after a relapse is to bounce back and start over. Keeping secrets only opens the door for more trouble. Instead of shame or remorse, choose to empower yourself with the new knowledge you have about the disease of addiction. Brace yourself against a swell of emotion and think clearly. Get busy contacting members of your support group and ask for help. Knowing that relapse is common for those who are recovering should help you understand that this temporary setback can be a part of your recovery process.
Understand the Relapse Process
Relapse is also a process, just like recovery. The process may have started with an argument between family members, seeing your old drinking buddies, or maybe feelings of loneliness or depression occurred before the relapse. When you examine what happened and how you were feeling before the relapse, you can create an action plan to prevent the same behavior from happening again. Plan and write down how you can avoid a repeat of the same situation and what you will do if it does occur – along with the people you can call for support.
Create a Relapse Prevention Plan
A relapse prevention plan should be customized to fit your specific triggers and life situations. This may include avoiding certain people or places, steering clear of relationship issues, or dealing with financial or legal problems the right way. A detailed relapse prevention plan will list out your specific triggers and warning signs, and include a plan for the worse case scenario. Be sure to include other recovering people and your supportive network of family and friends in your relapse prevention plan.
Consider Drug Rehab in Fresno, CA, Again
A slip may indicate the need for further drug or alcohol counseling and maybe even a short term inpatient treatment facility to make sure you are stabilized before moving forward. Returning to rehab should never be a source of embarrassment, but quite the opposite. Being willing to do a detox or a 7-21 day inpatient program is a sign of your determination to fight back and learn all you can to stay sober.
Certainly, an outpatient program would be a good idea to make sure a relapse does not signal a return to active drug use or drinking. Understand that a relapse can be quite serious when it comes to your medical condition. Once your system has been clean of drugs and alcohol for any length of time, even a small amount of drugs consumed can cause an unexpected reaction that may be emotionally violent or cause a toxic reaction within your body.
Don’t take any chances with your life. When it comes to recovery, relapsing can offer vital insight into the best path you should take for moving forward. Contact First Steps Recovery if you have relapsed and need more help living life sober, happy, and free of drugs and alcohol.