You are an alcoholic or drug addict. You know that, you have admitted that, and you have taken the brave step of contacting Aspire Counseling Services for treatment and assistance. You have been successful in facing your addiction and remaining sober. You were moving forward and healing. But now you are starting all over; you relapsed. Maybe you have maintained sobriety for months or even years. Maybe you only lasted hours after completing the program. There was a trigger that sent you on a drinking binge or led you to pick up that syringe or pipe. Regardless of the situation, the next step is taking responsibility, forgiving yourself for making a mistake, and moving forward, because this is not the end.
A relapse, setback, slip, lapse, call it what you want, is common in recovery. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse more than 85% of people with addictions will relapse within one year of sobriety. After one year, nearly half will still relapse. The fact is many people will relapse multiple times before finally achieving full recovery. The good news is that the chance of relapse will go down the longer you are sober, after five years it is significantly lower.
A relapse can leave you feeling guilty, ashamed, humiliated, and tempted to just give up on your recovery. Obsessing about the fact that you relapsed does no good, it will put you into a shame spiral of self-loathing. This is not the end; this is the time to double down and let this relapse strengthen your commitment to sobriety. Taking responsibility for your relapse is not about blaming yourself, it is about forgiving yourself and critically examining what happened to avoid future potential relapses. You must determine what the triggers were that caused you to relapse and address those triggers. You can use that knowledge to strengthen your commitment to sobriety.
Taking responsibility for your relapse also means seeking support. Call your counselor at Aspire Counseling Services and inform them that you need help and be honest with them about what happened. Relapse is a part of recovery, but you can learn from it. With support you can talk through your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to determine your triggers and how to make changes to address those triggers. Support groups are crucial because being among others who have lived the experience of addiction provides sources of empathy, honesty, and suggestions for coping strategies during difficult times. You should also reach out to your loved ones and come clean about your behaviors. Hiding your relapse only reinforces the addiction mindset and creates shame and guilt. Expect some disappointment and for them to be sad, but your honesty and openness will be the best tool for encouraging their continued support.
Relapse often occurs because you are not listening to internal cues and needs, so you end up resorting to old habits. Use the recovery acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) to take an emotional self-inventory.
Hunger refers to both physical and emotional need. Your body needs healthy, nutritious food to thrive and function at an optimal level. A healthy support system of family, friends and therapy groups is needed to fuel love, understanding, and belonging to ease any emotional hunger you may be feeling.
Anger is a natural emotion, and there are situations where it is appropriate. HALT and take the time to understand the cause of your anger. Be sure to take appropriate action to avoid destructive consequences. Take time to calm down, breathe, or remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes to allow yourself to approach the cause of the anger with a calm and rational mind. Physical activity, meditation, and prayer can all help to calm your anger. Remember that giving in to any urge to continue addictive behavior as a way to relieve your anger is a short-term solution leading to a long-term problem.
Loneliness can occur in a group setting or by yourself. Isolating yourself or withdrawing into yourself is common due to fear or doubt whether others understand you. Remember, isolation is self-imposed. Check in with yourself and determine whether you have had contact with anyone today. Your support system is there for you when you feel depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or just need to talk. Go to a meeting, text a friend, visit family, just reach out and connect with others who want to see you healthy and happy. Volunteer somewhere that holds you accountable and relies on you to be there, that can help fill lonely voids.
Being tired can take a toll on your body, mind, and spirit. Keeping busy with activities can make us ignore how tired we become. Many that struggle with addiction have co-occurring conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. All these conditions can create fatigue. Being sure to sleep, rest, and rejuvenate is critical for physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Be sure to plan time for proper sleep and rest to get through tough times and maintain your sobriety.
Using these emotional self-inventory coping tools can help you to manage your recovery. You want to make sure you do not end up in a revolving door pattern of repeated relapses. A repeated relapse cycle impacts your physical and mental health. Know that this relapse is not the end of the world, but an opportunity to reinforce basic life skills and a deeper commitment for sobriety. You can come back even stronger with a renewed motivation.
Call Aspire Counseling Services today if you have relapsed. They will guide you back on the road to recovery and help you regain your sobriety.
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