Steps to Take After Relapse

Family picnic
We cannot blame our relapse on anyone or anything else. After going through the treatment process, we have learned to identify and recognize our triggers, then cope with them effectively. When we relapse, we are often struck with the realization that relapsing is a choice. We actively choose to pick up and another drink or drug as our solution instead of turning to the solutions that work. As we reflect on what happened leading up to the relapse, we will see what behaviors and choices of our own contributed to the action of relapse. Some of our behaviors and choices will be obvious. For example, we may have stopped going to meetings, stopped calling a sponsor, stopped going to therapy. We might have started hanging around triggering environments, spending time with old friends, and putting ourselves in the presence of temptation unnecessarily.


Step by step we gain insight into how our behaviors and choices led to the act of relapsing. Learning from our relapses is what keeps us sober moving forward, potentially for a lifetime. While we learn from the mistakes that we made, we commit the knowledge to memory. We look at each of the factors which led to the relapse and develop a theory of contrary action. Contrary action is a term used in recovery to describe the process of going the opposite direction from our immediate instinct. If we realize hang out with old friends who are still using, we take action to call someone in recovery to hang out with instead. Every action has an opposite and equal action. When we feel the urge to use, we simply don’t.


After a relapse, the greatest challenge people face is overcoming their shame and guilt for relapsing. Addiction and alcoholism are described as relapsing and remitting disorders. Relapse is part of the overall process of addiction, but it does not have to be part of recovery. If it does become part of your story, the most important thing is to come back to recovery as quickly as possible. Forgive yourself for your moment of relapse and quickly return to recovery as a way to forgive yourself and get back on track.


Simple Recovery offers a continuum of care designed to help clients fully integrate the life skills they build in recovery to living sober. Start your recovery today by calling us for information: 888-743-0490