You detoxed. You thought your nightmare of addiction was over, but then you suffered a relapse. You might feel like kicking yourself, but that isn’t going to help. So what do you do?

You basically have two options:

  1. Give in to the drug and be an addict.
  2. Use your relapse as a positive lesson and start over.

Option one isn’t really an option. After all, you were ready to go to hell and back to kick your habit, weren’t you? You wanted to revive your career, improve your health, get your relationships back on track and live a normal life again.

Option two is hard. It’s almost like starting over – but it may not be as hard as it was the first time round – and you stand a better chance of succeeding this time. Why? Because something triggered your relapse. Identify it, and you can eliminate the trigger or at least reduce its power over you.

What to do next?

Decide what you want. Nobody but you can cure your addiction. Your recovery is in your hands. If you really do want to recover from your relapse, you can overcome it.

Next up, you need to get back in touch with your counsellor or 12 step sponsor. Yes, you aren’t going to feel good when you do this, but it will probably not come as a surprise. Chances are, you’ve already missed appointments.

Depending on how long your relapse lasted, you may need some inpatient treatment. Remember, it’s worth it! You’ll get a head-start again, and this time, you’re going to make it work for you!

Your family also needs to know – if they don’t already know

Your loved ones will be disappointed, but it’s important that they know what’s happening in your life right now. They can’t help you or give you support if they don’t know what’s going on.

Chances are, they already know about your relapse, or have been suspecting it, and it will come as a relief to them to know that you’re back on the program and fighting back.

Most important of all, they’ll be in your corner, rooting for you, backing you up and cheering you on. You need that support to get through your relapse. Going for family counselling can show them how best to help you.

…but I’ve already been to rehab!

Sure you have, and it helped you, right? You got all the professional support you needed. You worked through many of the issues that caused you to turn to substances in the first place.

Maybe you need to do a little more work now. If your doctor or counsellor feels that you should start over from the detox phase, then going to rehab is not something you should simply dismiss. And don’t be shy about going back to the same facility. The staff already know you, and they’ll be able to help you even more effectively than they did last time.

Think of it this way. If you have flu, you go to the doctor. If you get flu again, you return to the doctor. Addiction is a complex condition, but if you keep working at it, you can overcome it. Use every tool and every aid at your disposal. Why do things the hard way if there’s an easier way?

Turn your relapse into something positive

No event that offers you an opportunity to learn is ever a waste. Relapse is only a failure if you give in to it and decide to live the rest of your life out as an addict. Of course, you won’t be celebrating your relapse, but you can use it to your advantage. Here’s how:

  • Use your relapse to make an even stronger commitment to sobriety.
  • Learn where your coping skills failed you and address the trigger that caused the relapse.
  • Come back stronger, wiser and even more determined.

Know that you’re by no means the ‘only one’

You don’t have to feel like a loser. You’re only a loser if you give up on giving up. Lots of people before you have been to rehab and relapsed. Some of them have done this several times. You’re not some strange anomaly. The important thing to remember is that they kept fighting and they won out in the end.

You can have your victory too. Sure, you’re disappointed about your relapse, but you’re going to use it to make rehab work this round. Hold on to that thought! Never give up on giving up. Relapse isn’t a failure unless you allow it to be.