There are few things harder than bouncing back after a relapse (other than getting sober in the first place, of course). Life after a relapse is extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. First of all, you have to hold yourself accountable. It might seem a lot easier to sweep things under the rug and chalk it up to a rookie mistake. Everyone gets one, right?
Well, no. Sobriety is pretty black-and-white when it comes to drinking and drug use. If you pick up, you are no longer sober – that’s just the way it works. Seeing as this is the case and you do not get “one free pass,” you will have to hold yourself accountable. This means letting your sponsor and your homegroup members know that you experienced a relapse and that you were recommitting to your program of sobriety.
Getting Over a Relapse in Recovery
Admitting that you slipped up is never easy, and admitting that you slipped up in front of a group of people is even more nerve-wracking. However, it is necessary if you want to continue along in your program of recovery and stay sober long-term. Relapsing is also difficult because you will need to start over with your step work. If you have already made it through the 12 steps, you will need to rework them before you can sponsor other people. this might feel like a setback, but remember that the more times you work the steps the more solid your sobriety will be.
I’ve Relapsed…Now What?
Relapse can happen to anyone, and it can happen at any time. However, relapse is more common during certain times of the year than others. For example, relapse occurs around New Year’s Eve at alarming rates. There is a lot of pressure and stress surrounding the holiday season, and there is a lot of drinking-related peer pressure that occurs during the specific holiday.
If you have maintained sobriety for any length of time and you relapsed during New Year’s, it is important to acknowledge – first of all – that it is not the end of the world. The last thing you should do is throw in the towel and say to yourself, “Well, I guess 2021 is down the drain. I should probably keep on drinking for the remainder of the year and just try again in 2022.” Try to go easy on yourself. This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone. If you do relapse, just remember that tomorrow is a new day and you have every opportunity to start again. You might feel especially discouraged because you feel as if you are starting the new year on the wrong foot.
But everybody makes mistakes, and these mistakes can occur at any point in time. If you do relapse on New Year’s, here is an example of the steps you should take the following day. Be sure not to wait – take action immediately.
- Call a sponsor or sober friend and let them know what happened immediately. This way, you will not convince yourself that it is no big deal and that nobody has to know. Hold yourself accountable as quickly as you possibly can.
- Go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting the very next day and share about what happened. Being open and honest about where you’re at will not only help you get back on the right track, it will help other people in the room as well.
- Be kind to yourself. You’re only human, after all.
- Seek additional support if you need additional support. For example, if you feel like unmanageable stress or an underlying mental health condition led to your relapse, reach out to a licensed therapist or psychologist. Make sure you are getting the comprehensive care you need.
Garden State Treatment Center and Relapse Prevention
At Garden State Treatment Center, we place a strong emphasis on relapse prevention training, teaching each of our clients the coping tools they need to stay sober long-term. If you recently experienced a relapse and you are having a hard time getting back on the wagon, feel free to reach out for help today.