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3 Stages of Relapse: Physical

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What to Do After a Relapse: Seeking Help Again

So you’ve suffered a relapse into substance abuse. How did it happen? Will it happen again? What should you do next? The first thing you need to understand is that your relapse experience probably began days, weeks or even months ago.

Relapse is a gradual process that often starts with a series of triggers, like disappointments in your relationships, rejections or feeling disconnected. From there your emotions may have led you to mentally rationalize the use of substances as a coping mechanism. The next thing you know, you’ve reverted back to your drug abuse ritual.

But, all is not lost. Addiction may be a chronic disease and relapse could be another challenge you’ll need to overcome as a recovering alcoholic or drug addict. In this post, we’ll show you what you can do next to minimize the effects of relapse and get back on the road to recovery.

What to Do After a Relapse

If you’ve experienced a relapse, it’s normal to feel shame, disappointment, helplessness or hopelessness. You may even feel intense anger toward yourself for allowing your addiction to take control of your behavior after all of your hard work. Here’s what to do next:

Forgive but Don’t Forget

Nobody is perfect, including you. Despite our best intentions, mistakes can and often do happen on the road to long-term recovery from addiction. This doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a human. Dwelling on this particular failure is not only unfair, it can lead you to an even worse place. So, instead of fixating all of your energy on your relapse, recognize it as the valuable learning experience it really is and use the information objectively to evaluate where you are and what assistance you need.

Identify the Cause of Your Relapse

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, a physical relapse is not a singular event. It’s a process with a beginning, middle and end. Take the time to reflect on the sequence of events that may have led you down a path to relapse. These are precisely the issues that you can explore and correct in therapy in an effort to interrupt your cycle.
For example, your relapse could be an indication that you became too complacent in your recovery. Maybe it’s time to attend support meetings more regularly, or begin individual or group therapy. Maybe you began bottling your emotions and did not use healthy coping skills. Or maybe you need to distance yourself from old acquaintances who continue to abuse substances.

Be Honest with Yourself

On the other hand, your relapse could be an indication that you never truly reached the acceptance stage of grieving your addiction. If this is the case, you may need to seek professional help again so you can identify and explore solutions to these unresolved contributing factors. That’s ok. What’s not ok is depriving yourself of a chance at long-term sobriety.

The Raleigh House is Here to Help

If you’re concerned about relapsing or if you’ve recently started abusing alcohol or drugs again, contact us today. Don’t wait until things get any worse. Our addiction specialists are standing by to help. Fill out our form, or call:


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