Contributor: Alexis L. Franzi, Content and Social Media Specialist, at Lakeview Health
There are so many stressors and triggers that can potentially send someone with days, weeks, months, even years of sobriety off their straight path and into dangerous relapse territory.
Regardless of all the preparations you make and the tips you’ve read to avoid relapse and the pep talks you’ve given yourself, there are an infinite number of factors you can’t control or predict and sometimes they can get the better of you.
Contact Your Sponsor
If you have relapsed over the holidays, the first thing you should do is get in touch with your sponsor. While you’re likely not going to want to make the call, it’s something that you need to do in order to put a plan together as far as the next steps you’ll need to take.
Put your shame and embarrassment aside and bring your sponsor up to date on the events that have taken place. After all, they are there for you not only in the good times, but the bad too. You might want to consider meeting with your sponsor face-to-face to talk, as it will be better than trying to deal with everything over the phone.
Don’t Lie to Loved Ones
Your friends and family have been there throughout your journey and they will know immediately if you’ve fallen off the wagon. Don’t lie to them. Be honest about what happened and expect a range of emotions from them as this is also a setback for them as well.
There might be disappointment, anger, frustration, and confusion, but it’s important that you are upfront and not act like you’re trying to hide anything from them as you’ve worked so hard to build their trust back. It’s also imperative that you know recovery experts have noted that relapses are not very uncommon and you’re not the only one who has taken this break from sobriety.
Do not get discouraged and know that asking your loved ones for forgiveness might not come right away, but if you take the necessary actions to prove to them that you’ve made a mistake and intend to right your wrong, they’ll support and love you.
Listen to the Right People
You’re feeling terrible after your relapse. You feel stupid, like you’ve let yourself and everyone who has supported you down. You feel like a failure and instinctively you gravitate towards people, places, and things that endorse these feelings. That’s the worst thing you can do. You want to surround yourself with people who are positive and who can give you good advice on how to move forward from this relapse. Going to a 12-step, AA, or NA meeting and surrounding yourself with people who have been where you are can be a good thing. They can relate to what you’re going through and offer constructive criticism while not tearing your down.
You don’t want to sit alone in your room and wallow in self-pity after your relapse. That only allows for time to overthink and be angry with yourself as you contemplate where you went wrong and what you could have done differently. Hindsight is always 20/20 and beating yourself up about your mistake won’t change anything.
Find a healthy hobby or activity that you can participate in that will take your mind off of the negative and put you in a healthier place mentally. Volunteering your time at homeless shelters or helping out with a charity is a great way to feel better about yourself while helping others.
Pay It Forward
You’ve had people help you after your relapse who you can’t thank enough; you can be one of those people. Be there for someone who needs guidance and who can benefit from your experiences in a positive way. You know how badly you needed someone to be there for you and to offer you advice because they’ve been where you are and how invaluable this information can be. Pass that along to someone else.
It can be quite discouraging when you relapse as you have to get back in the mindset that you’re capable of recovery and that you deserve recovery. Just remember that you’re not the only one who has had a set back and you’re in charge of your life. You can recover and start your journey again; anything is possible.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
Have you struggled with relapse in your recovery from addiction? What steps did you take to take back control or your life?
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 11, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com