4 Steps to Take After Relapse
4 Steps to Take After Relapse.
By: Jennifer Scott
No one wants to relapse. After all the hard work it took to get sober, the last thing you want is to go back to your old ways. However, relapsing is not all that uncommon. Actually, more recovering addicts relapse than not. And the odds are that you will relapse at some point on your recovery journey.
A significant reason for this is brain chemistry. Using addictive substances releases dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical, in the brain. This chemical can cause the brain to prioritize the drug over other necessities, which commonly leads to relapse.
Another reason involves stress and coping mechanisms. Many people use addictive substances to cope with external pressure. If new, healthier coping strategies aren’t developed, many recovering addicts can find themselves back using their old coping mechanism – drugs and alcohol.
If you’re stressed and feel anxiety at work, not only can it make you less productive, but it’s also linked to relapse. Without the correct coping mechanisms to deal with this stress, it is easy to fall back into drug abuse. Ways to cope could include starting a satisfying exercise routine, finding a hobby that helps occupy your mind in a healthy way, or boosting your mood at home by removing clutter and letting in more natural light.
Luckily, no matter what the underlying cause of relapse is, it is not a sign of failure. For many people, relapsing is merely a part of the recovery journey. There are some actions you should take after relapse, though, to get you back on the right track.
Contact a Professional
It’s important that you contact a professional. This step is essential for two reasons.
First, a professional can help you get back on the right track, whether that means changing your treatment program or help in developing healthy coping strategies. It is imperative that your doctors know about your relapse so they can adjust your treatment accordingly.
Secondly, relapse is dangerous. When you regularly use drugs or alcohol, your body develops a resistance to it. This development then causes you to use more and more of the substance to get the same effect.
When you stop using that drug for a while, your body’s resistance drops. If you suddenly begin using the substance in the same amounts as before, dangerous things can happen because you no longer have the same amount of tolerance.
Discuss It with Close Family and Friends
While it may not be easy, you’ll need to tell your family and close friends about the relapse. They need to know where you are on your recovery journey so that they can help you get back on your feet. Your family and friends can be critical individuals to lean on in this difficult time.
It can be painful and disappointing for your family members to hear about your relapse. But, it is vital that they know so that they can help you.
If you’re worried about their reaction, consider bringing them to therapy with you so they can understand just how common relapse is.
Forgive Yourself and Continue Forward
Remember, relapse is common.
Just because you relapsed doesn’t mean your recovery is doomed. You must forgive yourself so you can continue forward. By completing the steps outlined here, you can get yourself back on the right path to recovery. Complete recovery is possible, especially if you keep making the effort.
Adjust Your Strategy
Relapsing can be a sign that you need to adjust your treatment strategy.
This is not always the case; help from your doctors and your family members can help you decide if adjusting your strategy is a step you need to take.
If you do need to adjust your strategy, remember that there are many treatment options out there. There are usually many treatment options available in any given area. It might even be useful to combine different options to find just the right combination that works for you.
Relapse can be heartbreaking for everyone involved. But it is not the end of the world. The important thing is to take the necessary steps after a relapse to reorient yourself onto the path to recovery.
Photo Credit: Pexels
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. A single mom, she writes about the ups and downs of her mental illness on SpiritFinder.org. The blog serves as both a source of information for people with mental illness and a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can come together to discuss their experiences.