It happens all the time - you are feeling confident and content in your life, pursuing newfound interests and career goals and suddenly you begin pulling back on your work in recovery, choosing instead to focus on these other endeavors. The more time goes on, the less prepared you are to face and overcome any obstacles in your life. Suddenly things are not going smoothly, you are stressed out and lack the coping skills necessary to handle your anxieties. What do you do? You return to your old behavior of substance use, and suddenly your sobriety has been tossed aside and you are feeling shocked and dismayed at your actions. Where do you go from here?
Relapse is a common part of recovery, as some lessons must be learned the hard way. The first action you should take immediately following a relapse is disclosing this slip up to your sponsor and sober supports. Maintain the rigorous honesty required in recovery as you explain to them the extent of your relapse, so they can help you determine whether or not admission to a treatment center is advisable for your situation. Keep an open mind as you receive their responses to your situation, and be willing to follow their advice regardless of your own feelings on the matter.
Once you have safely returned to your recovery program and have stabilized in sobriety, you should do an autopsy of your previous recovery efforts to determine where things went wrong for you so you may avoid the same pitfalls this time around. For many people, overconfidence becomes problematic as you feel you no longer need to dedicate so much time and energy to your recovery program. Do not make the same mistake this time around, and remember that everything you have in your life today is a gift of sobriety, and when you stop taking care of your recovery program you risk losing your sobriety and all the gifts it has provided you.
We determine the meaning behind everything in our lives, and this is true of a relapse as well. You can either choose to view your relapse as a failure reflecting your weakness and inability to succeed in sobriety, or as a wake up call meant to teach you a lesson about how to live in recovery. Obviously the latter is a much more positive and healthy outlook on relapse, and you should seek to find the lesson in your relapse so you can bounce back in recovery and avoid the same mistake again. This is how we succeed in sobriety - one day at a time, overcoming the obstacles in our path with the help of our sober supports and higher power. So long as you remain committed to putting forth the effort required, you will succeed in recovery and achieve lasting sobriety!