Old fashioned metal key on a lilac background. Tips for handling relapse and getting back into recovery.

Tips on How to Handle a Relapse and Resume Your Recovery

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Relapse happens to so many people. Here’s how to move forward afterward and get back into recovery.

When you’re on the road to recovery from substance abuse, a relapse can be devastating. Feelings of guilt and shame can further derail your recovery. It’s important to get help right away if you suffer a relapse. Here are some steps you can take to heal and resume your journey to sobriety:

Remember That You’re Not Alone

Research actually shows that relapse is common, especially in the first year of recovery. You’re not the only one going through this! And there’s good news too. According to Psychology Today, “For those who achieve a year of sobriety, less than half will relapse. If you can make it to five years of sobriety, your chance of relapse is less than 15 percent.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that relapse is part of many people’s recovery process. Rather than thinking of it as a failure, consider it another step in your journey. 

Here are ways you can get your recovery back on track after a relapse.

Connect With Real Help

The first thing to do after a relapse is to connect with your peers who have experience with recovery. This can include friends, a 12-step sponsor, or a support group. Be honest with them. It’s very likely that some of these folks have been through a similar situation before and can offer you real-world advice.

If you don’t have a counselor or stopped attending sessions, this is a good time to seek professional treatment. The expert clinical and counseling teams at Workit Health can offer support for all types of addiction so you can make lasting change and feel like yourself again.

If you are already seeing a counselor, you may want to add additional sessions to get yourself back on track. Ask your therapist about Relapse Prevention Therapy. This cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you to learn coping skills so you can deal with relapse and its aftermath. If you’re having trouble finding services near you, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a treatment finder that might be helpful. 

Sober Nation also advises you to connect (or reconnect) with your spirituality. This can be attending a faith group, returning to your 12-step program, prayer, meditation, etc.

Create A Plan For Moving Forward

  • Prepare for work-related stress. The stress of working is strongly correlated with alcohol and drug use. That’s why it’s critical to have a plan in place for how to handle work-related stressors. If you need to take some sick leave from work, be prepared to answer your co-workers when you return about where you’ve been. If you have a job that is overly stressful and doesn’t leave you personally fulfilled, it could be time to explore other options.
  • Know your triggers. If you aren’t aware of your triggers, they can blindside you! An addiction trigger can be anything that prompts memories, thoughts, or feelings that have to do with drinking or using. Read this post to help you identify your triggers and learn how to handle them.
  • Fill your life with healthy activities and hobbies. Boredom can be a trigger, too, so make sure you fill your life with positive hobbies and activities. For example, you can join a gym, take a healthy cooking class, or start a garden. 

Discuss Your Relapse With Trusted Loved Ones

Your loved ones might be struggling to understand what happened. Be honest with them, and let them know that relapse is a common part of recovery. It may reassure them if you tell them the steps you are taking to prevent relapse in the future. 

Let your loved ones know that what you need from them is support and encouragement, not judgment. You can share resources like Workit’s Friends and Family program, links to Al-Anon, or guides to help them understand addiction and treatment options. 

Forgive Yourself

Although we saved this section for last, it’s by no means the least important. Remember that recovery is hard! You’re rewiring your brain and relearning habits and ways to interact with people. So try not to beat yourself up for slipping. Getting stuck in self-pity or self-anger is not going to make things better. Work to forgive yourself so you can move forward.

It’s important to understand what forgiveness means, as well as what it means to you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’ll forget your past; instead, it enables you to move forward while respecting the decisions that came before.

Relapse is a difficult but common part of recovery. Create a plan and find the proper support so you can move past it.

For many people struggling with addiction, relapse is part of their journey. Here are tips on how to handle relapse and get back into recovery.

Where to now?

Start your recovery today. Download our app or sign up for a free 5-week course.

A young Man on a couch with a dog using his phone for addiction recovery

Where to now?

Start your recovery today. Download our app or sign up for a free 5-week course.

Rufus created recoveringworks.com to organize resources for anyone in recovery who is trying to choose their career path. His goal is to help others make their professional journey go smoothly, for them to feel supported, to feel excited to walk into an interview and crush it.

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