I Experienced Relapse–Now What?

Fear of relapse looms large in the minds of many individuals in recovery. The stigma against relapse may prevent you from seeking the help you need after an instance of substance use or abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that relapse rates during recovery range between 40 and 60 percent. Though the majority of relapse situations arise within the first six months of graduation from a rehabilitation program, a person may find themselves facing relapse years after beginning their journey in recovery. Anyone can experience relapse at any time–you are not alone.

Why Did I Experience Relapse?

Individuals in recovery relapse for a variety of reasons. A common cause of relapse is low prioritization of your recovery. Enrolling in and completing a rehabilitation program is only the start of your recovery journey. You need to develop a strong support network, join therapy groups, find a reliable sponsor, and remove yourself from unhealthy situations. In other words, your efforts to control your substance use disorder (SUD) cannot stop when you leave rehab. SUD is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. When you ignore your mental and emotional health, both will falter and can lead to relapse.

A weak support system may lead you toward relapse, as well. After leaving rehab, you will need a group that will work to accommodate your needs and keep you accountable, especially in the early stages of recovery. Without the support of friends, family, peers, or professionals, you may fall back into bad habits. Members of your support system who encourage you to change for them rather than for yourself will also impede your recovery. Even those who start their recovery journeys with good intentions may relapse in the face of sudden and unexpected trauma. Depression, anxiety, bipolar depressive disorder, and other mental health disorders increase chance of relapse. If those conditions are untreated, you are at a higher risk of returning to abusive habits. Reflect on potential causes for relapse as you take the next step of seeking treatment.

Pick the Treatment Option That Suits Your Situation

Some instances of relapse occur as isolated events caused by the sudden emergence of a trigger. Consider your habits before relapse: Were you dedicated to your recovery? Now that you have experienced relapse, are you willing to revisit rehab immediately? If you were committed to maintaining sobriety before relapse and are prepared to take the necessary steps to recover after the experience, you may benefit from visiting an outpatient facility. In some situations, entering a facility may not be necessary at all. Consult your therapist to see if rehab is the best option for you. They may suggest joining a different therapy group, adding new sessions to your schedule, pursuing a new type of treatment like meditation or art therapy, or adjusting your support group at home.

Relapse can also indicate a return to patterns of substance abuse. Be honest with yourself and your therapist as you decide how best to respond to the experience. Repeated abuse of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two deserves comprehensive treatment. An inpatient facility may best provide the high levels of support that you need following the relapse. While there, you can examine the factors in your life that spurred a return to substance use and plan strategies to escape unhealthy relationships, living situations, or perceptions of self. Returning to a rehabilitation center allows you to explore alternative treatment plans that may suit your lifestyle better than previous strategies. Try new things. Perhaps physical activity or equine therapy will afford you the release you need.

What If It Happens Again?

Maintaining sobriety is not easy and if you cannot rely on the support of others and you are not confident in yourself, you are at a disadvantage. Unless you change your lifestyle after an initial relapse, you will likely experience relapse again. Allow yourself to process the emotions associated with relapse and then seek help from people you trust. Your loved ones will always love you, your therapist will always want you to succeed, and your peers in your support group will always welcome you into their meetings. When you take responsibility for your journey, you will recover.

If you are looking for the right rehabilitation facility for you, we invite you to explore Silver Lining Recovery. We provide each of our guests with a holistic treatment program tailored to suit their specific needs. When you join us, our team of dedicated mental health professionals will walk with you as you take the first steps in recovery. We want you to feel confident in yourself and your sobriety inside the facility and, after completion of the program, in your social and professional spheres. If you’re interested in joining our recovery community, please call us today at (866) 448-4563 for a consultation.

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