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I Relapsed. Now What?

An anxious looking woman stares out the window.
You can recover from a relapse—and keep moving toward your goals.


A relapse is not a U-turn.

Stay with us through this analogy—because it’s important. Your journey started in the world of addiction and you’re headed in the direction of recovery. Your night of heroin or booze or whatever was a mistake, of course.

But it was not a U-turn.

Think of your mistake as a pause. Right now—this very minute—is the moment where you choose which direction you are headed.

You can regroup and refocus and emerge stronger on your sobriety journey. Or you can, like the chronic dieter, decide to eat the whole plate of brownies because you ate one. And then bake another batch the next day.

Here is what to do after a relapse.

Step 1: Reach Out

Who has been the most important person in your recovery? Maybe you have a 12-step sponsor? Maybe it’s your therapist? Maybe it’s your brother?

Whoever it is, call him or her. If you can’t bring yourself to call, then text. This person cares about you and will help you come up with a plan to get back on track.

Step 2: Get a Plan

Some relapses last a night. Some last two weeks. If you fall into the latter group, it may be necessary for you to return to rehab and detox with medical supervision.

Either way, it’s important for you to retrace your steps—with the help of your sponsor or therapist—and figure out where you went wrong. What emotions were you experiencing before your relapse?

By discovering where your recovery broke down, you’ll be able to prepare yourself better for the future. This is true whether your relapse happened after a week of sobriety or whether you had a relapse after long-term sobriety.

Step 3: Move Forward with Strength

Surviving a relapse (and handling it the right way) isn’t a defeat. It’s a challenge you have overcome. Leave guilt and shame in the past and move forward.

By examining why you relapsed, you have given yourself the opportunity to grow stronger. Maybe you’ve committed to going to more meetings. Or you might have decided that you need better strategies for managing stress or loneliness.

Now is the time to address those weaknesses—which will take you one more step in the direction of hope and freedom.

Help at The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver where you can find the help you need to rebuild your life. Addiction is a disease that needs to be treated. Our team of experts works together to tackle both the physical and mental aspects of addiction. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.

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