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Recovery After a Relapse on Drugs or Alcohol


It is estimated that ninety percent of people who are recovering from substance abuse will experience a relapse at least once in their first four years.  For those seeking recovery after relapse potentially could be facing some potentially formidable obstacles.  There are a number of reasons why people relapse after periods of sobriety.  The main overarching factor is that sobriety itself can lose priority once significant clean time is established.  Another common relapse mechanism is keeping in mind the triggers that can drive an individual back to using behaviors.  Triggers such a death of a close loved one, money worries or work-related stresses can drive the recovering individual back to active substance use and abuse.


While relapse after a period of recovery can be deflating to one’s self-esteem and outlook, being proactive in regaining a recovery mentality after a relapse is important.  Relapse doesn’t necessarily mean failure:  addiction is a chronic disease and may take some time after a few unsuccessful attempts to fully embrace and understand a sober and clean lifestyle.  There are some tips to keep in mind regarding recovery after relapse.

What to Do After a Relapse


Recommitting to Regular Twelve-Step Group Meetings

One of the best ways to recommit oneself to the recovery mentality is to attending twelve-step group meetings on a regular basis or maybe increasing the frequency of those meetings.  Whether is it Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or the myriad of other twelve-step groups, finding common ground with people who have experienced the same or similar situations can provide the necessary support and encouragement needed to get back on the right track.  One may find that a substantial percentage of those sitting around the tables had also relapsed and were able to find recovery.


Listening to the Right People

When people have an addiction, they feel stupid, unwanted, dirty or unworthy of love and respect.  If a relapse occurs, those who relapse tend to gravitate towards those people or places that will confirm those feelings.  Surrounding oneself with positive people–whether it is a sponsor through a twelve-step program, family or trusted friends—can provide a solid foundation for the recovering person who has experienced a relapse to pick themselves back up and pursue recovery.


Finding Alternatives

Adopting new activities and hobbies that don’t involve the people, places and things associated with drug and/or alcohol use can help impart new and healthier mindsets and attitudes.  Some examples include adopting a regular exercise program or participating in intramural sports.  Another alterative can be the acquisition of a hobby such as painting or music.  Volunteering one’s time to a worthwhile cause or charitable agency can be another example of finding more proactive and productive ways to adopting alternative ways to occupy one’s time.


Paying It Forward

A great way to pick oneself up after a relapse is to help another person who is struggling with substance abuse issues.  There is common ground that is shared in regards to that struggle and not only will that person benefit from the shared experience, the gratitude and respect that is felt can give the person who had relapsed the confidence and motivation to continue on the path to recovery.

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