Understanding Relapse – How To Learn From Setbacks And Move Forward

There are a variety of models for understanding how relapse happens. While some philosophies focus on how relapse indicates weakness, others consider that relapse is a part of the change process.

Regardless of the model, it is important to recognize early warning signs that may indicate relapse. This can include people, places, or circumstances that remind you of your addiction.

Take a Deep Breath

What to do after a relapse? Regardless of how your or your loved one’s relapse happened, the first step is to take a deep breath and realize what has happened. This is a time to reflect on the experience and make a plan to prevent it from happening again.

It’s common for individuals to experience guilt, shame, and disappointment following a relapse. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that relapse doesn’t necessarily indicate failure or weakness. In reality, relapse can offer an opportunity to learn and grow.

Emotional and mental relapses often begin weeks or months before a person picks up a bottle of drugs or a glass of alcohol. People may begin to neglect self-care, isolate from friends, and rely on negative thinking. As these patterns continue, they can lead to a loss of confidence in their ability to deal with triggers and cravings. This is known as decreased self-efficacy and can increase the likelihood of a relapse.

Think About What You Learned

It’s important to understand that relapse is common in recovery and does not mean you have failed or that treatment doesn’t work. Like any chronic disease, addiction is a long-term process that will require some setbacks.

You can use your relapse as a learning experience and look at ways to improve your recovery. For example, you may have been in a toxic relationship or hanging out with people that trigger cravings for alcohol and drugs. Understanding what makes you relapse can help you avoid those situations and people in the future or at least minimize their impact.

Many philosophies exist on relapse; some view it as a weakness or failure, while others view it as a natural part of the recovery journey. Regardless of your viewpoint, it is important to recognize that relapse can be painful and that you must regain your strength to move forward.

Take Action

A major part of relapse prevention is identifying the aspects of your life that impact you negatively and making changes. This may include people who negatively influence you, your home and work environments, or how you manage stress.

It’s important to understand that relapse isn’t a sudden event but usually, a process that occurs over weeks or months. Some people experience emotional relapses before they pick up a drink or drug. This can result from bottling up emotions, denial, isolation, and poor self-care.

Some people may need to see a therapist or addiction specialist more often after a relapse to clarify their relapse prevention plan and identify triggers. Others might benefit from attending support groups or participating in recovery programs. Couples and family therapy sessions can help families deal with the relapse and learn tools to support their loved one’s continued sobriety. It’s also important to remember that relapse is common and not something you should be ashamed of.

Ask for Help

If you have experienced a relapse, it is important to seek professional help. While it may feel like a failure, this setback is an opportunity to make changes to prevent future substance abuse and improve your overall health and well-being.

Getting back on track after a relapse can be challenging, especially when dealing with physical withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. It is important to know your triggers and warning signs to identify the relapse early on and seek treatment.

During recovery, you must remove any drugs or alcohol from your home and stay away from places you have used in the past. Additionally, getting regular personal therapy sessions (ideally several times a week) is helpful, as this can help you understand why your relapse occurred and provide you with tools to prevent future setbacks. You can find a therapist to work with online, which provides phone, video, or live chat support.

We are not doctors and this is in no way intended to be used as medical advice and we cannot be held responsible for your results. As with any product, service or supplement, use at your own risk. Always do your own research before using.

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