Addiction recovery is an ongoing process. There is truly no start or end. Rather, it can be a very cyclical process, full of ups and downs. It is possible that those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction can relapse at any time, even years following treatment.
What is drug relapse?
Relapse is drug use, often a “slip,” after a period of sobriety. Data suggests that relapse is more common than one might expect, and it’s common for someone to relapse more than once. There are many reasons why someone might relapse. Triggers, which are environmental or emotional cues associated with past drug use, are often the cause of a relapse. If someone doesn’t have the coping skills to manage these triggers, it can be much easier for someone to succumb to a relapse.
Additionally, failing to address the underlying causes of addiction will more than likely lead to a relapse.
What do I do now?
The good news is that a relapse does not mean all hope is lost. If you or a loved one has relapsed, keep in mind these important tips to get back on track during your recovery.
- Take responsibility. You won’t be able to seek help until you’re ready to admit that you need it. If you sought treatment at a time when you weren’t ready, a relapse is more likely to occur. You have to want it for yourself.
- Do not beat yourself up. Negative emotions will only make things worse, and also may cause you to use drugs or alcohol to deal with your pain.
- Seek professional help. Whether it’s inpatient treatment or aftercare, don’t ignore professional help. You might think that if you already went through treatment that it didn’t work. Remember, an addiction counselor can address the root causes of your addiction, equip you with appropriate coping skills, and provide a judgment-free place to talk. The level of care you need may depend on how many times you’ve relapsed. Someone who has relapsed multiple times may require more intense treatment.
- Learn from your relapse experience. Maybe you now have the mechanisms to cope with your triggers, or you know that you need to work on personal relationships. Whatever the reason, use your relapse as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and your addiction.
- Do not assume the hard part is over. Again, recovery is a long, never-ending journey. There will be difficult times that require that you be extra committed to working on your recovery. Don’t be afraid to seek help, go to a 12-step meeting, or talk to a loved one or sponsor when you need help. Take advantage of your support network and community resources even when you don’t feel like you need it.
Relapse is not a sign of failure. Finding the strength and willingness to seek help demonstrates that you’re committed to your recovery. Pyramid Healthcare offers professional help and support no matter where you are in your recovery.
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