Some people end a period of treatment with an uninterrupted recovery that lasts a lifetime – unfortunately, a significant number of people will relapse back to drinking or drug use.
Relapse is not inevitable and you should do everything in your power to avoid it – and to avoid the complacency that too often leads to a slip.
That being said, relapse is a very common and unfortunate part of the life-cycle of the disease of addiction. A relapse does not mean that previous treatment was unsuccessful or a waste of time, only that a further period of treatment at some intensity is once again necessary.
- If you slip – stop drinking or using as soon as possible. One drink or one hit or one night of partying is a slip and a slip is easier dealt with than a full blown relapse. If you have a slip, this does not mean that you have to have a full relapse. Get into contact with your sober support system immediately and get into a safe place free from temptation. Get back into contact with those that have helped you in the past for some emergency assistance and try mightily to learn from the situation – so that it won’t happen again!
Tips for Avoiding Relapse
- Stay involved with aftercare – staying involved in some form of addiction treatment program or community support group for a least a year greatly increases your odds of avoiding relapse
- Don’t get complacent – after a few months of recovery, people sometimes get overconfident – thinking that they’ve beaten addiction for good. Overconfident people let their guard down and can get into situations of temptation. Overconfident people also don’t tend to think they need to continue with aftercare addiction treatment.
- Don’t get stressed – Don’t take on more than you can handle, especially during the first year of recovery. Stress greatly increases the chances of relapse; so accept help from others when you need it, make sure to get enough sleep, enough to eat and make sure to always take some time for yourself. If you don’t handle stress well to begin with, think hard about learning some stress management techniques, or take up proven stress busters like meditation or yoga.
- Minimize your exposure to temptation – although you can’t avoid all temptation in life, the less you need to face the better your chances. For the first year, try to avoid those places, people and situations that remind you of the way you used to live.
- Make a plan for temptation – know that no matter how you try to limit your exposure to temptation, there will be days when you’ll still need to face down a lot of it. Know in advance how you’ll handle temptation and stick to the plan when you do get tempted.
Page last updated Aug 30, 2010