When someone experiences a relapse after beginning a journey to sobriety, they may be left feeling sad, disappointed, or confused. They may not know where to turn to next or feel like they can continue confidently on their journey to try again. The most important thing to remember in recovery is that relapse happens, and relapse does not result in failure. Though relapses happen, the following steps that one takes are crucial in continuing a journey to recovery. One must recognize their triggers by taking time for self-reflection and locate resources and other help through their community. It is necessary to make adjustments and changes to one’s recovery journey as they see fit, as there is no one right way to recover.
Taking Time to Self-Reflect
After experiencing a relapse, one must spend time with self-reflection. Take the needed time to identify what triggers occurred prior to the relapse, and identify new actions that can be taken in a future situation. There are probably many different factors that influence relapse, so consider all factors. There may be environmental factors, such as being in a situation that pressured use, or internal factors, such as emotional problems or unresolved trauma. Some questions that may be a good place to start with self-reflection include:
- What emotions am I feeling right now?
- Where was I when I experienced a trigger to use?
- What can I do differently in the future if a similar situation occurs?
- Am I hanging around people that support and encourage my sobriety?
- What proactive actions am I taking to support my own recovery?
- What can I do right now to help me stay sober moving forward?
There is no one reason people relapse, just as there is no one path to recovery from substance abuse. However, self-reflection is a great start, as this can help identify underlying issues that seem to motivate substance use. Relapse initiates change, and many people may experience a relapse in their recovery journey, allowing them to recognize and initiate helpful adjustments to one’s journey moving forward.
Setting boundaries is a healthy way to cope with relapse. Setting boundaries is not only beneficial for recovery, but it is also a needed form of self-care. Healthy boundaries are personal limits that one set for themself to protect themself from harm. Having a lack of boundaries or no boundaries at all can lead to negative mental health responses, which could also be dangerous for one’s recovery. A healthy boundary can look like no longer attending events with a party scene, as that tends to trigger substance use for some. Another boundary could be refraining contact with people that are mentally or physically abusive. Boundary setting can be challenging to start, but once limits are set in place for oneself, they can begin to feel secure in the decisions that they make moving forward.
Like mentioned before, setting boundaries is a form of self-care. Each individual has specific triggers in life, some that are beyond their control. After spending time with self-reflection and boundary setting, a person may feel more confident in themself and their recovery.
Many individuals experiencing addiction chose treatment programs that will help to kickstart their recovery. Recovery is a long-term process, so often, individuals will visit multiple treatment programs or centers throughout their journey. Initial treatment options are typically not the best fit for everyone, so relapse may also signify that the chosen treatment program may need to be adjusted in some way, or maybe a new program should be experienced.
A good example is the difference between inpatient and outpatient programs. Inpatient treatment programs are also referred to as residential treatment, meaning one life at the treatment center. If someone is experiencing severe substance abuse problems or co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders, residential inpatient programs are a great option.
Outpatient treatment programs happen outside of a residential facility but may require meetings almost every day. Treatment sessions can range from individual therapy, group therapy, counseling, or other treatment options. Typically, these programs gradually become less intensive over time as this helps individuals acclimate back into their daily lives. There are pros and cons to each treatment option that should be considered when choosing a treatment program.
If someone is not fully ready to commit back to treatment, consider encouraging them to attend local support groups. Group support can be a great way to motivate one to seek help and hear about others’ experiences with treatment and recovery.
If you or someone you know has encountered a relapse during their recovery journey, we at West Coast Recovery Centers encourage you to stay strong. The sooner you take action after relapse, the easier it may be to get back on the right track. Take the necessary time to reflect on triggers and experiences with your relapse, focusing on what can be adjusted with your journey moving forward. Consider receiving professional help during your treatment journey or attend inpatient or outpatient programs. West Coast Recovery Center offers various treatment options that can help you even when relapse occurs. We have programs that range from music therapy and creative expression therapies to other forms of mindfulness, group therapies, and psychoeducation. Our team values a deep connection with you, and we are honored to walk alongside you as you step towards sustainable recovery. For more information about the resources and treatment options we offer, give us a call at (760) 492-6509.