Drug and Alcohol - Relapse Prevention
How to Bounce Back From an Alcohol Relapse
You completed your treatment, and you stayed diligent with your sobriety. Maybe you picked up kickboxing to keep your mind and body occupied.
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You completed your treatment, and you stayed diligent with your sobriety. You learned to love energy drinks and Martinelli’s, and maybe you picked up kickboxing or crocheting to keep your mind and body occupied.
Maybe the alcohol relapse felt like a slap in the face. Maybe it seemed like a total surprise emerging from nowhere. Or, maybe it felt more premeditated, the last stop on the slippery slope you’d been sliding down for weeks.
Prepare for the Tsunami of Difficult Emotions
Relapse may be a physical action, but it’s an emotional event. You don’t need to ignore your emotions, and you don’t need to fix them. You do, however, need to brace for them.
Your emotions may feel conflicting. On the one hand, they may include guilt, shame, frustration, and sadness. On the other hand, you may also experience a sense of relief and euphoria.
Regardless, the relapse will likely evoke a sense of instability. You may feel emotionally paralyzed and helpless. If you established significant and sustained time in recovery, you might be riddled with uncertainty over what to do next.
All these feelings are normal. And like you probably learned in treatment or in a meeting, feelings always, always pass.
Surround Yourself with Support
No matter where you are in your relapse, telling someone is the first step towards change. However, for many people, even the thought of such a disclosure evokes a tremendous sense of fear. After all, you don’t want to burden your loved ones, and you don’t want to disappoint them yet again.
However, you owe it to yourself (and to them) to practice honesty and integrity. Lying doesn’t eliminate problems. It only masks them with ugly makeup that eventually washes off.
Support allows all of you to come together to make the best decision for your future. A support network shows you that you’re not alone and that you’re capable of moving forward.
Return to Treatment
Some people can bounce back from a single lapse. Others may spiral out into a serious, long-term relapse and need professional guidance and tools to return to recovery. Neither method is better than the other. However, because every addiction path is different, every recovery process looks different as well.
Many treatment centers offer long-term aftercare services and alumni support in their treatment planning. Contact your counselor to determine if this is an option.
Accept the Relapse
Experiencing an alcohol relapse may seem like the absolute, crushing end of the world. Falling into a dark abyss of self-pity and inferiority will tempt you.
However, this self-loathing and negativity often only propels the desire to continue drinking. Shame alone rarely motivates one to change and grow. Acceptance, however, gives people permission to own the mistake- and do something productive about it.
Many people bounce back from relapses with deepened insight into the severity of their addiction. This ‘research’ reminds them of how the detrimental and devastating effects substance use has on their lives.
An alcohol relapse isn’t a failure. It’s merely a blaring reminder to get back on the road towards success.
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