Best 6 Tips for Making a Quick Comeback After a Relapse
One of the most difficult things for most people to face when it comes to addiction and recovery is a relapse. After someone manages to give up the substances and behaviors holding them back, it can be hard to feel like the work was a waste when things get hard and they fall back into those old patterns. It is easy to feel defeated and lost after a relapse, but it is important not to let those feelings keep you from making more progress.
Sadly, relapse is very common. A lot of people experience it, and some are lucky enough to survive it and still get help. If you or someone you love has relapsed, it is critical that they do not give up. Relapse does not mean people can’t change, and it does not mean they are helpless.
So we want to talk about the best 6 tips for making a quick comeback after a relapse. But first, let us clarify what relapse means.
What is Relapse?
From the basic definition of relapse, we can break it down to give a little more detail.
- In general – a relapse is to suffer deterioration after a period of improvement.
- In medicine– a relapse, also referred to as recidivism, is a return of a past condition.
- With the context of drug use(to clarify- alcohol is a drug) – relapse is a reinstatement of drug use and drug-seeking behavior. It is the recurrence of pathological drug use after a period of abstinence.
So the common thread here is that a relapse is when someone:
- Is able to start a period of improvement…
- Is healing from a previous condition…
- Has a period of abstinence, but then drinks or uses drugs, ending their period of abstinence. The individual falls back into drug-seeking behavior and using; activating their condition which can counteract their overall improvement.
Some people want to call it a “slip,” however it is still considered a relapse. Regardless of what you call it, there should be no reason you let it stop you from taking the necessary action to get back on the path to recovery.
So what are some of our tips for making a come-back?
Do NOT be ashamed
Stigma and shame are two of the hardest obstacles people recovering from addiction must overcome. It is especially difficult when talking about relapse because of the progress they made. Often times, when someone has been successful in staying clean and sober, a relapse will make them feel like they have failed. Sometimes people see it as an indication that they are incapable of keeping off drugs and choose to give up.
Beating yourself up over a relapse is counterproductive. Not only does it pull your energy in the wrong direction, but some people become so embarrassed that they don’t try to get more help.
Don’t keep it a secret out of shame. That can be more dangerous than you know.
Acceptance is a big part of bouncing back from a relapse. Understand that it is a common factor in recovery from addiction and that you are still capable of getting back on the right track. Of course, don’t make excuses in order to give yourself permission to relapse, but also remember you are not alone. If a loved one has relapsed, do not get angry and come down on them. Instead, support them and remind them that you believe in them.
Learn from your mistakes
Hiding your relapse or being ashamed of it does not fix the problem. By getting honest and admitting what happened, you can begin to examine why it happened. Look at the behaviors and the chain of events that led to the relapse, and then try to determine what contributed to the relapse.
Was it something specific that you experienced? Did you go back to an old pattern of destructive behavior, or surround yourself with unhealthy relationships or environments?
Is there any action you took that made things for difficult?
How can you avoid those things in the future?
Or perhaps you realized that you weren’t doing something important. Maybe you stopped going to your 12 step meetings or communicating with your support groups. Or maybe, you stopped taking care of yourself physically and the impact on your body influenced your mental and emotional well-being.
A gift that you can take away from a relapse is that it teaches you something about yourself you may need to be more successful in recovery. Make sure to take this opportunity to learn as much as you can.
Protect your health
Drinking and drug use can wreak havoc on your body. Depending on what kind of substances, how much is used, how often you use and what your health is in general, you may need to take some important steps to keep yourself safe and healthy. Every individual is different, but some substances cannot be underestimated.
For some, the healthiest thing you can do is seek a safe medical detox program after a relapse. Sometimes, people have built a tolerance and get used to using so much of a substance. After a period of abstinence, that tolerance can be all but wiped out. If these people try to go back to their usual dosage, they can easily overdose. If not, you can still be putting your body through some severe trauma.
A few substances have withdrawals that can be extremely harmful or even deadly. Abruptly stopping some drugs without medical assistance can be extremely dangerous. If you are on prescription medications, it can also be important to communicate with an experienced health care provider.
Do whatever you can to put yourself in the best position to protect your health.
Seek out therapy options
A vital aspect of recovery from addiction is developing healthier coping mechanisms. An individual’s behavior patterns and thought process are intimately connected to their substance abuse. The thoughts and actions that lead to drug use come from underlying issues. Being able to identify and properly address these issues can play a pivotal role in effective recovery.
When someone relapses, there is a lot to process. Not only do you want to look at the underlying issues and the ineffective coping mechanisms, but you also want to analyze what led to the relapse. Working with a therapist with experience in things like substance use disorder and trauma can be a huge help in dealing with emotional and mental baggage.
Also, many people will experience depression and anxiety after a relapse. Working with a therapist can help you to avoid falling victim to these issues while helping you build a better understanding of your relapse and a better outlook for the future.
Build a recovery plan
So you have accepted the relapse and identified the path leading up to it. Then you took the first steps to make sure you are physically and mentally healthy. What should come next? Well, you make a plan for the future.
Now that you are getting back on track, you want to make sure you do everything you can to solve the issues that caused your relapse. Make yourself a road map of what actions you are going to take this time to stay heading in the right direction, and how you’re going to avoid any or the toxic relationships, harmful environments or bad habits that got you stuck before.
If you are working with a therapist, you have someone to help you navigate these situations, and to help you set goals.
Having a personalized recovery plan can help you stay accountable to yourself, and give you one more tool in preventing future relapses.
Use your support system
Throughout the process of making a come-back, you have probably connected with other people to help you along the way. Having a medical professional, therapist and a support group gives you a reliable network of people who are familiar with what you’re going through and can offer you expertise and support.
If possible, connect with family or friends that you have healthy relationships with. Seek out people that are willing to offer guidance and compassion while still holding you accountable. But don’t just get a list of names- use that list.
One of the biggest mistakes that people often make that leads to relapse is that they cut themselves off from the people around them. Sometimes, they do it intentionally because they know those people will keep them accountable. Other times, people isolate from their supports subconsciously due to some other circumstance. Some people think they are just too busy.
Make sure you are not too busy to take care of yourself. Don’t be too busy to communicate with people who care about you and want you to do better. And if you relapse, do not be afraid to lean on the people you trust.
Successful recovery doesn’t mean you never make a mistake, but it does mean you don’t let those mistakes stop you from stepping up.