You had been sober for several months and felt very secure in your ability to maintain your sobriety. You were attending meetings, fulfilling the requirements of your sober living program, and actively engaged in your recovery. But somehow you still ended up with a bottle in one hand and pills in the other.
A lapse or a full relapse can happen to anyone, even someone with months or years of recovery under their belt. Although it is completely possible to overcome addiction and never use drugs or alcohol again, research has shown that many individuals in recovery are at high risk for relapse.1
Despite your recent lapse or full relapse, you can still pick yourself back up and get back on track with your recovery. A relapse does not mean you’ve failed and it may even make you stronger in the long run. The most important aspect of relapse in recovery is how you react and respond afterward. Your response will determine what your life looks like moving forward.
Common Causes of Relapse
If you are in addiction recovery, it’s important to know the causes of relapse so you can actively work to fight those triggers. A high-quality drug and alcohol rehab program should focus on relapse prevention and provide information and coping strategies to deal with these common triggers throughout your rehab program.
In a subsequent transitional living program, you’ll have time to practice implementing these coping strategies in a safe and sober environment, but you may not always succeed in avoiding relapse. Some common causes of relapse are2,3:
- H.A.L.T. – The acronym H.A.L.T. stands for hunger, anger, loneliness, and tired.4 These four states of being are not uncommon, especially during addiction recovery. If not dealt with appropriately, these physical and emotional states can serve as triggers that lead a person back into substance abuse.
- Lack of commitment – If you are not serious about your recovery and neglect your 12-step meetings, counseling, or are otherwise unengaged with a recovery program, you are much more likely to relapse.
- Lack of support – A solid support network is absolutely essential to long-term recovery. If you don’t have a group of sober peers to keep you accountable, provide insight and support in difficult times, and to spend leisure time with, the likelihood of experiencing a lapse is higher.
- Misplaced motivation – If you are only getting sober to make your parents, your spouse, or a friend happy, chances are, you’re not fully committed to your recovery. To achieve lifelong sobriety, you must be fully dedicated to your sobriety and maintain a personal commitment to it.
- Inferior planning – Not having a relapse prevention plan can leave you in hot water if or when you do slip up. Planning for instances like this will make it much easier to bounce back and get back on track with your sobriety quickly.
- Lack of self-care – If you get comfortable in your sobriety, you may begin to stop doing the things that initially contributed to your recovery. You may also begin to take on more responsibilities and neglect your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.
- Stress – Individuals in addiction recovery are more sensitive to stress and may relapse as a result. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga or running, can help reduce the likelihood of relapse.
- Being overly confident – After months or years of sobriety, it might be easy to slip into a mindset of believing you don’t need support group meetings, counseling, or aftercare groups anymore. Neglecting your recovery is never okay, even when you feel like you have everything under control.
Sober living programs are designed to help men and women in recovery face these common triggers and successfully cope without resorting to drug and alcohol use.
Getting Back on Track After a Relapse
If you do happen to relapse while you are enrolled in a sober living program or while living at home after completing your rehab program, there are steps you can take to get back on track.
- Communicate with your sponsor or recovery coach right away.
The best thing you can do after a relapse is to immediately take action. Call or meet with your sponsor, recovery coach, or a sober peer and have an open and honest conversation about what happened. A huge part of addiction recovery is maintaining complete honesty, so it’s vital that you share your relapse with a trusted individual.
- Consider going back to rehab.
If your lapse was an isolated incident, you may not need to re-enroll in drug rehab. However, if you have slipped back into a lifestyle of abusing drugs and/or alcohol regularly again, drug rehab may be the best way to get back on track. If you’ve relapsed several times before, you may also want to consider enrolling in a drug and alcohol rehab program that is specifically geared towards individuals who struggle with chronic relapse.
- Consider enrolling in a sober living program.
If you are not already enrolled, a transitional housing program can provide support, life skills, and assistance to stay sober. Sober living homes provide safe, sober living environments for men and women in recovery and the structure and accountability will help you maintain your sobriety, even after a lapse or relapse.
- Talk to your recovery coach about what went wrong and make a plan.
If you’ve recently relapsed, you’ll need to make some major life changes to ensure that you can remain sober and prioritize your recovery. Your sponsor, recovery coach, or house manager at your sober living community can work with you to create a plan that will help you avoid substance use and stay sober for good.
- Continue attending your 12-step support groups.
Although you may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or depressed about your recent lapse or relapse, it’s very important that you continue attending your support group meetings. This should be a place where you can be open about your struggles and receive support and wisdom from others who have been where you are.
A lapse or relapse is not the end of your recovery. It’s just a brief hiccup in the lifelong journey and you can use the experience to become even stronger in your sobriety. If you’ve recently relapsed and you’re looking for additional support in your recovery, Eudaimonia Recovery Homes can help.
We have sober living houses located in Texas and Colorado and designed for adult men and women in recovery. Our transitional living programs also include several recovery support services, such as a personal monitoring program, regular drug and alcohol testing, tiered recovery programming, and employment and educational assistance.
Call Eudaimonia Recovery Homes today to learn more about our sober living services and to get back on track.