It is hardly possible to talk about recovery without mentioning relapse. The instance of relapse for a recovering individual is so common, that many substance abuse treatment programs now include it as part of the process of recovery. Not only is it common, but it can actually be something which brings you closer to your goal of sobriety. Relapsing while under conditions which are different than your old patterns of addiction can ultimately assist you in developing better immunity toward your cravings.
In order to turn an instance of relapse into eventual victory, the first step after experiencing it is to not panic. You are not alone in the experience, and the lapse in judgment does not mean that you have to continue to slide down the slippery slope of addiction. Acknowledge that you have stumbled along your journey, and then look for ways to help yourself move forward. The following are some options for you to explore when seeking hope and direction after relapse.
Call On Your Higher Power
There aren’t very many spiritual or religious belief systems which claim that humans are unredeemable and need to be condemned for making mistakes. There is good reason for this. Most of us believe, deep down, that people are worthy of love, healing, and forgiveness. If we believe that exists for other people, then it surely applies to ourselves, as well.
One of the hardest thing for many people to do is to be kind to themselves after making an error. Instead of seeking comfort, there is a tendency to hide in shame and to beat ourselves up. The roots of this tendency can be traced all the way back to the book of Genesis, which recorded this phenomena almost three thousand years ago. In the iconic story of creation, humans were recorded as being filled with dread for doing wrong. They resorted to lying in an attempt to cover it up.
Whether your conception of a higher power aligns with the stories in the Bible, or not, it is important to not fall into this very common, and very human, trap. When we are busy punishing ourselves for our failures, we are not free to look upward and outward toward a brighter future. When dealing with relapse, take time to examine your personal belief systems, and to grab onto whatever light and love you need for encouragement to continue on.
Look To Loved Ones
While few who ascribe to a spiritual belief system will dispute the benefit of divine grace, there is still a protective factor which faith, alone, does not provide. As human beings, we need to be around other people. If we are blessed enough to have positive, supportive, and loving people in our lives, these dear ones can provide us with the motivation that we need to dust off and continue our journey of sobriety. Studies have shown that, in particular, loved ones who are educated about the nature of addiction and the process of recovery play a crucial role in recovery. If your friends and family are abundant in love, but lacking in knowledge, take this opportunity to fill them in on the best way that they can support you following your relapse. A benefit of educating them in this way is that you are likely to learn a thing or two about your relationship with addiction, as well.
Join A Sober Living Community
The benefits of belonging to a sober living community after relapse are numerous. The dwelling provides you with a safe and substance-free environment. You will be surrounded by people who have been on a similar journey, and so are primed to encourage you in your recovery. You will be supported by professionals, who understand the intricacies of how to approach someone who has relapsed. And you will be in a position to receive more and better tools toward managing your cravings as you move forward.
Sober living communities are precisely that. They consist of a community of people who are similarly committed to living a life of sobriety. They usually consist of a rented dwelling, managed by people who are supportive of the idea that sobriety is much easier to maintain when a person has a stable, substance-free, environment to live in. To this end, there are usually some basic rules in place, including participation in house chores and an agreement that you will not use drugs or alcohol while you are living there. For someone who has attempted sobriety on his or her own, yet struggles with relapse, having the extra accountability and safety provided by a sober living home may be the extra layer of security that is needed for success.
Positive social support is a key factor in maintaining sobriety. The residents of a sober living community provide a ready-made social circle of positive people. As part of social support group development, many sober living homes require that sobriety group meetings be attended by all. This may come in the form of required 12-step meetings at an outside location, or of customized support group meetings within the home. There are also often opportunities to participate in fun and sober activities, such as going to the movies or out to eat. These meetings and activities provide an opportunity to bond with your fellow life travelers, and to forge a social network which is supportive of recovery maintenance.
Substance abuse treatment programs are run by specialists in the field. They have often obtained unique training and certification, and have logged many hours of intervention before graduation. They are trained in assessing your situation, assisting in any detox necessary, and in providing you with the tools necessary for each stage of your recovery journey. These professionals can provide you with the coping skills that you need to make a different decision about your drug or alcohol use in the future, and can assist you in learning to avoid triggering situations, all together.