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Getting Your Life Back on Track After Relapse: How to Move Forward

Relapse is an unfortunate occurrence that many people face on their path to recovery. It may be triggered by overwhelming cravings, a bad day, or a lack of coping mechanisms to deal with emotional situations. Whatever the reason for relapse, a sense of regret and guilt tends to follow. As a result, this makes it even more difficult to turn things around. When you tackle recovery this time, you’ll have to put in some extra effort to maintain sobriety.

Go Easy on Yourself

The first step to overcoming your relapse is to forgive yourself. You must acknowledge that relapse is not a reflection of your character or strength. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse is simply part of the recovery process due to the chronic nature of addiction. In fact, relapse rates are similar to those for chronic medical conditions, including high blood pressure and asthma.

Try to make peace with your setback and reduce feelings of shame or guilt. For example, acknowledging your mistake and learning from it is a better way to approach relapse than being self-critical. Try to quiet any negative thoughts about yourself with self-compassionate and rational responses. Imagine you’re talking to someone else and take your own advice.

Develop a Plan for Handling Job Stress

Part of adjusting your strategy for maintaining sobriety involves coming up with healthy coping mechanisms for negative emotions. Unfortunately, there is a strong link between work stress and substance abuse. As you return to your normal work routine, you must have a plan in place to avoid relapse due to job stress. Some coping methods that others find effective include exercise, meditation, finding hobbies (arts and crafts, playing instruments, etc.) that help ease your mind and manage anxiety, and saying “no” when you’re overcommitted at work. Schedule time to get together with friends or family and try to find a fun hobby you can be passionate about. Creative hobbies like cooking, painting, and gardening are great for calming the mind after work and providing a sense of accomplishment that is unrelated to your job.

Sit Down with Friends and Family

Many people are too ashamed to tell their friends and family about their relapse, leaving them without this critical support network. So, it’s important to sit down and have a discussion with those close to you. Tell them that you relapsed and that you would appreciate their support. Let them know in what ways they can be helpful to you. Many family members don’t know how to help, so they end up becoming distant, angry, or pretend that nothing is wrong.

Decide on a Rehab and Detox Plan

Just because you relapsed doesn’t mean your previous treatment plan isn’t effective. Successful substance abuse recovery depends on a plan for long-term stability and aftercare. When looking for a rehab center, Psychology Today recommends considering quality, quantity, and cost. A good rehab center will focus on long-term care and provide assistance during the transition out of rehab as well. Make sure that you can cover the full cost of whatever treatment plan you choose so you can commit to the entire length of the program. When assessing the quality of a rehab center, it’s important not focus entirely on website review. Instead, visit the centers and talk to people to get the best picture of what it’s like.

A home detox is also an option, although risky when quitting some substances. For drugs that cause physical dependence, like opioids, you should seek medical care during detoxification. When detoxing, you’ll experience various withdrawal symptoms, ranging from severe anxiety to insomnia. It’s important to support your body’s healing with plenty of rest, healthy food, and lots of water. It’s also recommended to have someone there to supervise you during your detox.

Remember, recovery is not achieved through simple abstinence. You must create a new life for yourself in which you can be sober more easily. Whether that means cutting toxic people out of your life or picking up new hobbies to help you cope with stress, you’ll be better equipped to avoid relapse this time around.