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Relapse Does Not Equal Failure

person standing on road looking at compass - after relapseIf you’re reading this after experiencing a sobriety relapse, it’s critical to remember that you’re not a failure. Other people may look at it this way, and if you’re really feeling down, you might, too.

A relapse is often a warning sign that other aspects of your life need specific attention or modification. You might have to put forth extra effort to make these necessary adjustments, at least for a while. More importantly, you need to allow time for reflection and not be afraid of the answers that might come up during your inquiry.

First, what actually happened?

  • A slip is a lapse in your new sobriety journey. Maybe a family tragedy, problems at work, or excessive stress prompted your substance use. Or, a major trigger from the past challenged your resolve to avoid substances. A slip is often a single, temporary incident—one you acknowledge right away and are determined to fix.
  • If you’ve abstained from substances for three months or longer but then engage in drinking or drug use, this is usually a conscious decision. You chose this action instead of using learned coping skills and behavioral modification techniques when triggered. This action is classified as a relapse, and your wellbeing could be compromised.

Often, an initial slip devolves into repeated usage. Another difference between a full relapse and a slip is that a relapse includes much of the same addiction traits you learned to overcome, such as lying about or hiding your behaviors, making excuses about missed responsibilities, giving in to compulsive urges, and other noticeable signs.

If you have experienced a slip, you can quickly reinforce your intent to remain sober by:

  • Dedicating more time to support group principles and fellowship. If you’re part of a 12-Step program and have a sponsor, reach out immediately for consultation on how to move forward. If you’re participating in SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, or another type of recovery group, there are leaders and peers who can help you review guidelines to develop an understanding of what you’re feeling now, what prompted the slip, and how you can regain control. You might also benefit from attending one of Twin Lakes’ aftercare meetings throughout Georgia to learn how other people manage sobriety and work through certain issues that challenge it.
  • Seeking individual therapeutic care. There are various therapeutic options, but one possibility might be to find a professional who will work specifically with your circumstances. For example, you probably experienced some form of cognitive behavioral therapy during treatment. Depending on how long you were in rehab, it might be time to revisit some of those techniques with a professional as they apply to life in the real world. You might be able to partner with a therapist you already know, or find someone who deals specifically with substance abuse recovery.
  • Staying committed to healthy living. Now more than ever, be mindful of your positive diet, exercise, and sleep habits. They provide a necessary ballast to whatever triggered your slip and, combined with the above, help you remain stable and full of purpose.

These steps may be all you need to get you back on track after a slip. However, if you experienced a serious relapse, your next steps will likely require more work and time as you reassess and recommit to your recovery plan.

Recovering from a Relapse

Your honest assessment of what’s happening right now is your strongest weapon against whatever threatens your sobriety. Remember: you broke the cycle of addiction before, and you can absolutely do it again. Simply take the right action to prevent further relapse.

Revisit Your Continuum of Care Plan

Your condition when you first sought treatment was different than it is now. This is not only encouraging but also essential to give you the courage to move forward. Remember: your continuum of care plan isn’t set in stone. Talk with your rehabilitation specialists about how it should be modified to help you handle what’s happening in your life now, and expand your tools for effective sobriety management.

Determine If Outpatient Services Are Necessary

Too often, people give up on sobriety after a relapse because they think, “What’s the point?” And while it’s true that up to 60 percent of people treated for substance abuse will relapse—often in the first year of recovery—scientists strongly believe addiction can be treated and managed successfully. It’s possible that you need additional reinforcement of your care plan and more frequent contact with providers who can monitor your recovery progress more closely. Outpatient treatment is beneficial for people who have co-occurring disorders or simply need additional support. Some programs are residential, while others have frequent sessions throughout the week. All address handling cravings and the compulsion to revert to substance use, but also dive deeper into triggers, relationships, and other contributing negative factors.

Stand Up and Face Your Triggers

Remember, the more you uncover and acknowledge your triggers, the easier they are to control and eventually vanquish. With the help of therapy and support groups, you might need to take a closer look at deep-rooted issues contributing to addictive behavior. What you find is probably not good: trauma, neglect, abuse, abandonment—this list is long and varied. The negative behaviors you’ve used in the past to avoid or hide these and other issues are jeopardizing your life. Trust that these experiences don’t define who you are and how your journey will always be. When you learn from them and find more healthful ways to deal with them, you’re in control of your life’s direction.

Let Us Help You at Twin Lakes

The foundation of our treatment philosophy is to enable you to live a healthier, happier, and more productive life, without the restrictions of substance abuse and destructive behaviors. You have worth, and we respect who you are and how you want to move forward.

We take relapse prevention seriously and include specialized strategies in our discharge planning for every person in our care. To receive a confidential consultation, talk to a member of our admissions staff.

To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, including Atlanta IOP programs, please use the convenient contact form.