Updated on 2/7/2023

Recovery is a difficult journey with many ups and downs. Depending on how your path is going, you may find yourself at a low point: relapse. In the moments following a relapse, you may be scared, sad, disappointed, confused, anxious and unsure of what comes next. However, it is essential to know that while not desired, relapses are common for those in recovery. They are possible to bounce back from and do not mean you are condemned never to recover. You are not a failure, and you can beat this. Learning what to do after you relapse can help you regain recovery and start healing again.

Acknowledge Your Emotions After Addiction Relapse

Relapse is an action that many are not proud of after doing. You may be feeling disappointed, ashamed, embarrassed, sad and anxious after your relapse. These are common feelings that occur, and they are okay to feel. Rather than avoid them, acknowledge your emotions and meditate on why you feel them. From there, you can use them as a motivator to get back on your feet rather than sitting in your pity.

Change Your Perspective

Remember that this singular event does not define you or your recovery, but the moments after will. How you respond to relapse is critical – you can either stay knocked down or choose to get back up and keep fighting. Relapse does not make you a failure, nor does it mean your recovery is ruined forever. It is a blip on your journey that will make you stronger in the long-run. Choose long-lasting recovery instead of the darkness of addiction.

Reach Out for Help

It is crucial to seek outside help if you have relapsed or thought about relapsing. Relapse is a sign that your coping methods or current recovery plan are no longer working, and there are changes to be made. Reaching out can help you process what happened and what led to your relapse so you can avoid another relapse in the future. There is no shame in admitting you’re struggling, and you will be better off in the long-run for it. Reach out to a trusted sober friend, sponsor, recovery coach, counselor or other mental health specialists.

Reflect on What Happened

Relapse is not a single event that happens out of nowhere. It occurs in three stages over a period of time. By reflecting on what brought you to this point, you can see what led you astray and how you can avoid it in the future. Remember, the event does not define you, but how you respond to it is what matters. Learn from your mistakes to make wiser choices next time.

Develop Healthy Habits

One of the most common causes of relapse is a person not engaging in the healthy habits and behaviors that help them maintain recovery. After you relapse, it is time to go back to square one and start engaging in these activities again to get you back on track. Healthy habits and behaviors should include eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and learning emotional regulation. As you learn self-care, you will be better equipped for your low days and more optimistic about the positive ones

Think About Going Back to Treatment for Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Perhaps you have been slacking off on your support group meetings or other recovery activities, which can play a significant role in staying the course or falling off track. It could be time to go back to treatment to relearn coping strategies or find relapse prevention methods that work for you. It could be worth trying a different treatment approach this time around to see if it works better for you in the long-run. Remember, going back to treatment does not mean you failed, but instead, you need a little extra guidance to get back on your feet. 

Work on Forgiveness

You may be feeling ashamed, guilty or disappointed after a relapse. These feelings are normal, but you shouldn’t wallow in them. Remember that everyone makes mistakes in life and learning from them will make you stronger. Wallowing will not help you get back to where you need to be, but forgiveness will. Work on forgiving yourself to help move on from relapse and allow yourself to keep progressing. You can continue healing even if you are feeling down right now.

Look to the Future

Relapse does not mean you have failed at recovery. Look to your future and envision what you want it to look like, then do the work to get there. This event is just a blip in the story of your life, and you have the strength and capability to keep going. Remain positive and always continue working towards sobriety.

Many individuals who relapse often think they are failures and end up wallowing in their self-pity; this does nothing to help them get back on track in their recovery. Instead of wallowing, remind yourself that the way you respond to this event is what defines you, not the event itself. Taking the proper actions after a relapse can help you get back to recovering without falling back into the vicious cycle of addiction. If you or someone you know is currently struggling in recovery, contact Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford, a New Jersey rehab center. We have helped numerous patients get back on their feet after a relapse, and we can help you, too. Contact us today at (877) 557-5372.