A relapse occurs when you return to using a drug to which you are addicted after trying to quit. It is important to recognize that even one use is a relapse, as that one use can easily lead addicts back down the road to persistent use and undo all the gains of recovery. A relapse can occur after one day, or even years after quitting. The most important thing to remember though, is that relapse is so common it is considered part of the recovery process. The key to staying on the right path is to immediately quit again, keep your spirits up, and take steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Tell Yourself It’s Okay

A relapse does not make you a failure. It happens because you are physically addicted to a drug, and even years later you may be emotionally addicted. Recovery is a long process, and setbacks are common. You must forgive yourself after a relapse, or you are in danger of returning to full-time drug use and starting completely over. It is not okay to expect a relapse, as that could lead to one occurring. But once it does, cut yourself a break and get back on the path you chose to being drug-free.

Start or Stick to Your Addiction Treatment

If you tried to quit on your own, seek to build a better support system and seek addictions treatment services. Join or reach out for help from support groups of people facing similar addiction issues. If you have been under medical care, be honest with your healthcare provider about your relapse. Do not hide your relapse from your support system and just try to power through it. Part of a successful recovery is a treatment plan that involves support and, in some cases, medical or psychiatric help and even medication. If you think you will fall back into old habits, strengthen your treatment to include additional services.

Learn From Your Relapse

There are several things that can trigger a relapse, and it is important to recognize your triggers so you can avoid them in the future. The power of addiction is strong. Even driving through a neighborhood where you used to buy or use drugs can be enough to make you want to use them again. Go back in time to what you were doing right before you made the decision to use drugs again. Ask yourself as many questions as you can about that period in order to pinpoint your specific issues. The answer could be as simple as that you were bored and that you need to add more healthy activities to your life to keep your mind off your addiction.

Take Steps to Prevent Future Relapses

Once you have identified your triggers, you can begin the road to recovery again by avoiding those things that led you to start using again. Keep taking steps to improve your life situation so you don’t want to relapse again. Develop a plan with specific steps that will help keep you on the right path. Put this plan in writing and refer to it often. Just looking at your plan can be enough in some situations to prevent another relapse. Make sure your plan includes a list of people you can contact when you are feeling moments of weakness. Make sure you list the best times to reach people, the times of different support group meetings around town, and make sure you are covered 24 hours a day.

Relapse is a part of recovery, and it does not mean you are a failure or that you will never beat your addiction. Keep your goals in mind and ask yourself what you really want out of life. Make your relapse part of your recovery, and if it happens again, learn from it again. If you need to seek additional addiction treatment, reach out and get the help you need. There are a few inpatient and outpatient services that can help. Don’t let short-term setbacks stop you from getting to the life you can lead when you re-establish connections with friends, family, and yourself.

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