It’s challenging to admit that something in your life isn’t working. It takes courage to acknowledge the problem and decide to make things right. When you relapse in your addiction recovery, how can you build up the fortitude to not only admit you need help but also take those first steps with your head held high?
A Better Life Starts With Honesty
You might have heard this before, but it bears repeating: 40–60 percent of people treated for substance abuse will experience at least one relapse. This doesn’t mean you’re simply a statistic. Relapse doesn’t mean you’re a failure, either. However, the honest truth is that something in your continuum of care plan isn’t working, and your sense of self-awareness is a little off.
You might remember from previous treatment how to identify your H.A.L.T. triggers: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Each of these conditions has various levels of psychological and emotional impact if pushed beyond acceptable limits. So as you evaluate what’s not working in your life right now, consider:
- What are you hungering for that you’re not getting right now? Community? Companionship? Understanding? Attention? Comfort?
- Why might you feel angry about something or toward someone? Have you addressed the issue or individual rationally, or are you using substances to avoid confrontation or conflict?
- Have you learned effective ways to alleviate loneliness? What circumstances make you feel isolated, or are you isolating yourself—and why? Are there aspects of shame or guilt that contribute to your isolation?
- Are you feeling tired? Is the tiredness from stress, excessive work, insomnia, or a reaction to circumstances in your life that you feel are out of your control or forced upon you? And here’s an even tougher question—are you tired of trying to stay sober? Why or why not?
One way to work through how you’re truly feeling is to journal about it. Writing therapy, especially during recovery for substance use disorder, provides numerous benefits for processing emotions, providing a clearer perspective, and acknowledging your actions without judgement. If you haven’t tried this method before—even if it’s as simple as a “pros” and “cons” list on a piece of scratch paper or on your smartphone—you might be surprised at how much easier it is to assess what’s been happening with you.
Another point to examine while you have your honesty magnifying glass out is whether you’ve diligently tried to handle your other triggers. Everyone has them, but people diagnosed with substance use disorder have to be more mindful of environmental, emotional, and social triggers that contribute to negative behaviors. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime provides these extensive worksheets to help you evaluate your recent responses to internal and external triggers.
Finally, have you followed your continuum of care plan as outlined at discharge, or circled back to your therapist with what wasn’t working for you? Now is a great time to review the plan—and reach out if you need help, whether you decide to go back to rehab or not.
Have Compassion for Yourself
If your self-assessment determines you need to go back to rehab, congratulations! Once again, you have had the courage to tackle a problem head-on, just like you did before.
Too often when we stumble in life, we believe we can’t make it right. But you know more now than ever before about who you are and why you deserve to live healthfully and full of purpose. So what will add to your motivation to go back to rehab and seek treatment?
- Seek spiritual counsel. Many people find tremendous support and encouragement in spiritual practices, especially when they need more strength to accept certain truths or celebrate gratitude.
- Examine your self-worth. Past trauma, abuse, and negative influences leave lasting psychological effects. We all have wounds, but picking at them repeatedly often makes life more challenging. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of mental health care help us move forward in life toward a more peaceful existence.
- Be humble and ask for help. There are support groups for just about every condition we might have. If you’ve tried one and didn’t like it, others might be a better fit. If you ask members of these groups if they’ve experienced relapses and sought additional treatment, it might surprise you to learn just how many of them have. They can provide you with understanding and resources.
Going back to rehab might feel like a setback, but it’s important to allow a change in perspective. You didn’t learn to drive a car, do your job, become a parent, or any other thing in your life the very first time, right? So learning to live sober might require a few extra lessons, too.
With our specialized inpatient treatment services, detailed outpatient programs, and continuing care centers, we’re ready to help you move forward after relapse and take the next big step toward changing your life for the better.