Relapse is the dirty word of the addiction treatment field, and it is an unfortunate reality for many who are going through recovery. Knowing the ins and outs, why relapse occurs, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens can make you more prepared for your long term recovery success.
Why Does Relapse Occur?
Relapse is something you never want to happen to yourself or your loved ones, but it does happen. Most people who relapse do so because they let their guard down. They feel overly confident in their ability to stay sober, they let themselves be exposed to triggers and temptations, and they don’t turn to others who can really help when they feel weak. Others, on the other hand, relapse because they are not confident enough – they constantly live in fear of relapse and don’t let themselves experience the joys of sober living, pretty much setting themselves up for failure.
Relapse doesn’t have to happen. Here’s how you can prevent it:
Stay involved. You should stay involved with your treatment center and the positive programs and people you connected with there. Go back and visit when you can, participate in alumni groups, and stay in touch with those you met who can help encourage you in your sobriety.
Put into practice what you learned. While in rehab, you should have learned how to deal with stress, how to interact with loved ones, and how to work through past experiences that try to haunt you. Now is when you need to draw on what you learned, apply the practices to your real life, and continue to work on developing the skills you were taught.
Keep appointments. You’ve been away from the real world for some time now, and as you get back into the swing of things, you need to be responsible, keeping your commitments and making it to meetings. If you are still seeing a counselor, don’t miss a session, ever. If you’ve joined a support group, become a regular at meetings. If you are getting back to work, become a great employee – one who can be counted on to be there and be productive.
Ask for help when needed. You will have days when you feel weak – we all do. These are the times when you need to have someone nearby to call and be honest with about how you are feeling. Sometimes a simple phone call to a sponsor or close friend means the difference between sobriety and relapse. Don’t let relapse happen just because you were too afraid to ask for help. By staying involved with your support group and surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging family and loved ones, you will always have someone close by to pick you up.
Relapse is most likely to happen in the first few months after you get back from treatment, but it can also happen years after you’ve been sober. Experts agree that if you take your time and don’t rush treatment, if you stay involved with an after care program, and if you surround yourself with positive influences, you are more likely to avoid relapse. Some say you never stop recovering, but you can get back to a normal life – you will just need to follow the guidelines above to keep yourself from becoming an easy target of relapse.
It is important to note that relapse can still happen, even when you do everything right. Relapse is not the end. It doesn’t mean you can’t live a sober life, it just means you need to get back up and try again. Recovering after relapse is usually faster and sometimes easier because you know what to expect and you are building on a foundation you have already laid. Stay positive the second time around, be open to the insight and knowledge of your therapists, and take your time and do it right.
We understand that most people in recovery have a fear of relapse. That’s why we work with the best rehab programs available, programs that help prevent relapse by offering long term care options. Contact us at (888) 907-8039 to find a rehab program that is right for you.