Relapsing is neither inevitable nor uncommon. For the overwhelming majority of people, recovery follows a nonlinear path. What can help one individual stay sober may not be helpful for another; each person must figure out what works best for them. Success might involve developing new coping strategies, forming a more helpful support system, or finding more powerful motivation. Although backsliding or relapsing can be a blow to your self-confidence and resolve, there are plenty of people ready to offer you support and resources. Therapists, support groups, sober living peers, friends, and family can be excellent sources of motivation to help you get back on track. Compassion and non-judgemental understanding are an integral part of what makes sober living communities effective.
According to a study by The Treatment Research Institute, up to 60% of individuals in recovery will experience relapse at least once. The evidence is clear that people who are a part of a sober living community and undergo treatment are more likely to succeed in long-term sobriety regardless of whether or not they face relapse or other setbacks.
Accept Responsibility While Remaining Positive
Every choice has consequences. It’s important to accept those consequences and move forward. Making excuses or avoiding the fallout from a slip-up or relapse can damage your relationships and keep you from making progress. The important thing is to stay positive and focused on your goal of long-term sobriety, while simultaneously taking full responsibility for what happened.
Relapse is a chance to become a better version of yourself. Anyone in treatment knows that recovery is a long-term process, and that mistakes don’t mean you’ve failed. There are a number of things you can do to decrease the risks of a future lapse, including building awareness of your triggers and openly discussing a relapse and its repercussions with your therapist, sponsor, and support group members.
Be Mindful of Triggers
Triggers can lead to a relapse or complicate your sobriety in other ways by reminding you of previous events and situations related to your past substance abuse. Pursuing positive distractions and maintaining a structured daily routine are great ways to keep your thoughts from drifting towards mental triggers. Avoid physical triggers such as people, locations, or items that take your mind back to an unhealthy place. You can rely upon your therapist, peer group, sponsor, or other people in your support system to help you discover the source of any blockage or obstacle and find creative, sustainable ways around. Nobody needs to confront triggers alone.
Stress is a pervasive source of fuel for all kinds of triggers. Practicing being mindful and keeping your thoughts rooted in the present moment can help decrease your stress levels. A few reliable mindfulness techniques include breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, and working out. These activities force the brain to focus on what is happening at that single moment, which makes it harder to worry about the future or feel pain over the past.
Find What Motivates You
Everyone has things that motivate them to be a better person and live a healthier lifestyle. They can include things like family, friends, relationships, career goals, or personal goals. Some people have trouble finding motivation either because they are afraid of not achieving a goal or because they have isolated themselves and cannot think of anything useful to use fuel to forge onward.
Here are a few common motivations that people hold onto during recovery.
A desire to give back to the community by learning new skills and coping mechanisms is admirable and a common goal.
The ability to become a respected role model.
Mending bridges with estranged family and friends.
Achieving and maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual fitness.
Moving Forward Day By Day
The philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” Each day is a new opportunity to rise up. You are connected to people who want you to succeed in your sobriety – friends, family, and peers. All you can do is put your best foot forward at the start of the day and rely on your support system, resolve, and coping skills to get through challenging moments.
Experiencing a relapse does not mean starting over from scratch. This is especially true for people living within the uplifting environment of a sober living community, where relapse is understood to be a common, if unfortunate, side effect. There are plenty of tailored preventative measures that can benefit you in this exact situation and lessen the impact of your specific triggers. All it takes is the resolve to follow through.
If you have experienced a relapse, speak with your therapist, sponsor, and support groups about ways you can keep it from happening again. They will be able to give you suggestions for preventative measures that may have not yet occurred to you. Peer groups, like those available at Safety Net Recovery®, are designed to provide a nonjudgmental space to support all aspects of sobriety. A heavy faith-based approach to recovery means that staff and campus members understand the power of love and forgiveness. All you have to do is accept a second chance and keep working hard. Guilt or shame from relapsing should not stop you from taking responsibility for your actions or taking advantage of the resources around you. Although moving forward might feel impossible, know that you are not alone. The experienced staff and accepting community at Safety Net Recovery® are here to help. Call today for more information at (770) 432-9774.