You may have already heard that relapse is a part of recovery. Maybe you have seen it happen to one or more of your peers. Maybe you have been clean and sober for a while and never thought it would happen to you. Or, maybe you have repeatedly relapsed ever since you attempted recovery.
Just know one thing. It IS ok, and you can get back on track.
If you are here reading this, then that is the most important thing. You want to, and are ready to try again. For this reason, we are going to avoid all the "are you sure you've had enough?" and "maybe you're not done yet" jargon, as at Reset My Future we believe nobody has to take themselves into the depths of hell before they find their way to the light.
Here are our five key tips to get you back in the game.
1. Drop the guilt and shame
It’s not necessary and it is definitely not going to help you move forward. Relapse happens and in the words of Reset My Future’s Founder, Graeme Alford...
“Blame the substance, not yourself”
Alcohol and drugs are powerful and being lured back to them is a very natural thing for a person who has spent many years relying on them.
You may have spent years, even decades, relying on your substance to get you through, and you will continue to experience things in life where they seem like the only option available to you. They are not, there are other ways, but it takes time to build up the resilience to fight the pull.
Alcohol and drugs have a very clever way of tricking your mind into thinking they still have some value in your life. They probably did to some degree many, many years ago, but if you found yourself abusing them and needing to take action to remove them from your life, chances are they stopped working for you a long time ago.
Feeling guilty and shameful for your relapse will only make it harder for you to get back on track, as these two emotions are highly responsible for most people drinking and using in the first place.
Yes, your behaviour may have changed recently and you may have said and done some things that you are not proud of, but you can only rectify those and make authentic apologies once you are clean and sober again. Before that your words will be empty to the people you care about.
2. Ask for help
This may mean getting honest with your past or current recovery network, or this may mean seeking new support from professionals, but with over 30 years in the recover industry, we have NEVER met anyone who has been able to get and stay clean or sober without help.
We know you may find this hard, but if you address point one above, you will find it a lot easier.
There is nothing to be ashamed of with asking for help, and you may be surprised how many people are willing to step up and give you some strength when you are feeling vulnerable and lost.
3. Review your relapse, learn and move forward
There is a massive misconception in recovery that you lose all the previous recovery work and time you accumulated as soon as you relapse. We can partly blame the ‘counting days’ phenomenon for this, as well as celebrating milestones with increased emphasis of importance on people who rack up the years' over those with smaller numbers under their belt.
This is simply not true.
"Sometimes we fall down, because there is something down there we are meant to find."
You still have all that time, effort and learnings from before, PLUS you now have the opportunity to add more gold insights into it. So use it well. Sit down, preferably with the people you have reached out to already in point two and take an honest look at what happened that led you to relapse.
Perhaps it built up over time, such as stopping doing the things that worked well for you in the past, or maybe a one off event, such as dealing with grief or heartbreak, left you unable to imagine getting through without the support of your old coping mechanism. Or maybe, in a moment of weakness, you put yourself in a situation, such as a celebration without having a strategy to help you through it.
Whatever the reason, if you can understand it and develop a new future-proof plan, you are ready to go forward in your recovery with the confidence of knowing you will be better able to handle that situation in the future.
4. Bring back what worked.
You may have already uncovered this in the previous point, but there will be many things that worked well for you in the past, and they will work for you again. Maybe it’s a solid routine, a particular exercise, good healthy habits, and for some meetings and connecting with other alcoholics and addicts.
Get them in your diary now, and start doing them. Build on them, and do more of it. Typically these things make you feel good anyway, and so they should not viewed as a chore.
5. Believe in yourself
You are probably feeling pretty down on yourself right now and might be beating yourself up about having relapsed. Change that mindset right now and start visualising yourself already back on track. Start today, and in one week you will already be feeling a lot better. One month, will look completely different to today, and in one years time, you will likely have already forgotten how tough today felt.
Make a list of all the things you loved about being clean and sober, all the things you were able to do and how it made you feel. Put yourself back into that place and imagine yourself there again. You did it before and you will do it again.
Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get back up.
Interested more in this topic? Have a listen to our podcast where our Founder Graeme Alford discusses his opinion.
Looking for some help deciding what is the next right step for you to take? Get in touch. We are always available for a non-obligation chat.