Does everyone in recovery have at least one relapse? Does it take more than one try to get it right? You may have heard married couples on their second marriage talking about how they messed up their first marriage but got things right the second try. Sometimes it’s like that with recovery. Some people can navigate recovery the first time and keep from relapsing. Don’t feel like a relapse is an inevitable part of recovery, or when you first hit cravings you’ll take a nonchalant attitude towards getting off track. While it’s not the end of the world, and even though many people experience at least one relapse, you should try to avoid it if at all possible. It’s especially dangerous if you’ve been in recovery for a while because your body no longer tolerates the dosage of substances you once took and can be deadly. Here’s how to do your best to avoid relapse.
Views from Both Vantage Points
Once someone goes into rehabilitation, family and friends often think the struggle is over. They’ve finally gotten their loved one into rehabilitation and it’s all uphill from here, right? Wrong. When someone relapses, their family and social circle can take it especially hard. It’s common for them to feel very frustrated or that all their work has been in vain and that this is just another attempt to get some help that didn’t work.
On the other hand, the person who relapses often feels shame or that they’ve let their family down. This shame or guilt is not going to go a long way to helping them get back on track. Frustrated? The only person more frustrated than the family is probably the person who relapses. They had the best of intentions and hope that this would be the defining moment in their life.
It still is. That work did not go to waste because you’re now a step closer to being recovered and leading a full life. Yes, you had a setback. Having a setback is when we learn and grow the most. Having said that, a relapse just stinks. But it’s happened, and now it’s time to get yourself back together.
What are the Warning Signs of Relapse?
If you have been through inpatient rehabilitation, you’ve likely heard this before, although maybe you didn’t pay close enough attention. After all, you weren’t going to have a relapse. You didn’t need the information because you are going to get your life together and do recovery more perfectly than any human in history. Now it’s time to pay attention.
In many cases, the first stage of relapse occurs without you even knowing it. You’re in recovery and you start experiencing a lot of negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, or moodiness. This is where a red flag or a warning siren should go off for you; sometimes, though, it simply won’t catch your attention in time. These negative emotions can tempt you back into substance abuse even before you started thinking about it consciously.
When You Start Thinking About Relapsing
The second stage is when you start thinking about a relapse a little more consciously. It’s the mental stage of the process when you start to feel those cravings. You might find yourself thinking about the substance that you abused and how much easier it would be just to let go and relapse, or at least how much easier it would be to just stop fighting and start using again. If you didn’t seek out help in the first stage, probably because you probably weren’t aware you needed it, now is the time to call your sponsor or attend more meetings. You may have to go back into an inpatient facility so you don’t have a full-blown relapse. The bottom line is you need professional help to stop yourself from going into relapse as a preventative measure now. The path between thinking about using again and doing it is usually a very short one.
The Last Stage
If you fail to get help when you become conscious of thoughts that are telling you to use again, you’ll end up relapsing physically. That means your sobriety has been broken because you’ve abused a substance again, whether it’s something new or your old one. You’ve blown it and are a complete failure, right? This is not the end of your story. You can get back on track and get back into rehabilitation, but you’re going to have to tough it out and be willing to start the process over. You didn’t develop a habit overnight and you can’t get a cure overnight, either. Relapse happens, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recover from it.
Being aware of the beginnings of a relapse can go a long way toward helping you prevent it. Relapsing is not the end of the world, just the beginning of getting back to sobriety. Sometimes you have to get it wrong before you can get it right. Never believe that all the work you’ve done was in vain. Never believe that you’re a failure. Never believe that you can’t get back in recovery and start again. Here at Everlast Recovery Center, we don’t just give you counseling and skills to cope with stress, anxiety, and staying in recovery. We give you hope. Whether you’re dealing with a substance abuse problem, mental illness, or both, we can help you heal at our Riverside, CA facility. With our low staff-to-patient ratios and home-cooked meals, you’ll feel like you’re at home. We can get you back in recovery and back to sobriety. Give us a call today and let us help at (866) 338-6925.