Don’t Look Back: How to Keep Recovering After Experiencing a Relapse
Few things are more challenging than addiction recovery. And few things are more disappointing than relapsing after working so hard at sobriety. If this is you, the most important thing for you to remember is that you’re not alone. Up to 90 percent of people who are recovering from substance abuse relapse at least once. What matters most is how you respond and keep yourself in a position to win against addiction. Here are some steps to take that will help you continue your journey.
Talk with family and friends
This may be the hardest part of relapsing, but it’s critical: tell trusted family members and close friends about it. Without the people closest to you in your life knowing about your struggles, it’s almost impossible for you to succeed in your recovery. Just approach them with honesty and ask them for help in regaining and maintaining your sobriety.
Get professional help
Whether your relapse was a one-time occurrence or you’ve started to repeat old patterns, you need to seek help immediately. This could mean calling your sponsor or counselor or going back to treatment. It’s easy to feel hopeless after slipping up, and it’s tempting to give up and go back to a life of drinking or using. But it’s important to constantly remind yourself that many people relapse and that it can ultimately be a part of your overall recovery. So, contact someone to help you get back on track, and use your fall as motivation to take the necessary steps to do better next time.
Once you meet with a professional, you’ll need to discuss any changes and adjustments that are needed in your program. This could mean anything from a slight tweak in your last treatment strategy to a full-on reset and new plan. Consider your environment. Are any places or people in your life causing you to want to drink or use? It could be at home, your workplace or your favorite nightlife establishment. Some of the most common relapses happen when the person in recovery overestimates their ability to resist urges and cravings. You may need to change up some of the places you go and people you hang out with to set yourself up for success.
Along with adjusting your treatment strategy, it’s important to evaluate other lifestyle choices that can help or hurt your progress. Two of the best habits you can build are eating well and exercising. In general, a high protein and dopamine diet works great for individuals who are recovering. This means cutting out processed foods and refined sugar, and adding foods like unprocessed meats, omega-3 rich fish, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. It’s also vital to come up with a steady fitness routine. Not only does working out have numerous physical health benefits, but it can also boost your self-confidence, alleviate stress, and ease depression symptoms.
Keep moving forward
After a relapse, it’s tempting to cave into the voice in your head that’s telling you to give up. But see relapse for what it is: a stepping stone on your journey. If you feel guilty and ashamed of slipping up, it means that you truly want to live a sober life. So, instead of trying to ignore these emotions, embrace them and be thankful that you care. However, as you embrace the feelings, don’t linger on them. Dwelling on your failures will only keep you down. So, accept that you messed up, forgive yourself, and learn from your mistakes. Keep moving toward your goal of sobriety without looking back.
If you let it, relapse can be a crushing blow. Don’t let it. Tell the people closest to you about your battles, get professional help, and make the necessary adjustments to your treatment. Embrace your guilt and shame, and use your feelings as motivation to move forward on your journey of recovery.
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- Guest Post by KIMBERLY HAYES
(Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created PublicHealthAlert.info to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.