Worried About Relapse? What To Do When You’re Struggling
Posted by Soribel Martinez, LCSW
If you’ve worked to overcome an addiction, you’ve already taken on and accomplished something incredible. Your focus should be on how much effort you’ve put in and how much you’ve been able to do.
But getting help to work through an addiction doesn’t mean everything will be smooth sailing.
In the first year of sobriety, about one-third of individuals addicted to alcohol have a relapse. The statistics are similar surrounding other drugs and substances.
It’s important to note that even if you do “fall off the wagon,” relapsing doesn’t mean your recovery efforts weren’t worth it. It doesn’t mean you have failed.
But most people experience different feelings and struggles before a relapse actually occurs. If you’re worried about falling back into old habits and you’re struggling to stay sober, let’s go over a few tips you can use to stop that worry and stay on track.
Be Grateful for Where You Are
One of the easiest and most effective ways to fight the worry of relapse is to be grateful for your recovery. You undoubtedly already are. But, as you get more comfortable with it, that gratitude can be pushed to the back burner. It doesn’t mean it stops, but life happens and you might not focus on it as much as you should.
By bringing gratitude back to the forefront, you’ll think about where you were and where you are now. You’ll feel more thankful for the fact that you were able to overcome something not everyone else can.
Gratitude is a great way to push back against the temptation of relapse because it will help you feel content with where you are. Try carrying a small journal or notebook with you and jot down things you’re grateful for as they happen. It can serve as a constant reminder of everything you have.
Change Your Relapse Mindset
Everyone knows that relapse can happen. It can be hard to completely wipe that from your mindset. But, trying to do so can actually be a big help. Don’t let relapse be an option for you. By thinking to yourself “it could happen,” you might be subconsciously using it as an excuse to slip up.
If you relapse, you’ll be able to work through it again and come out on the other side. But don’t let that relapse be the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Tell yourself it’s not an option. You might be surprised what that kind of positive self-talk can do.
Be Prepared for Everything
Recovery is difficult, especially in the early stages. Be prepared to accept and handle those challenges as they come. Simply understanding that it will be hard is a good place to start. It can brace you for the things you’ll have to face.
Just because things will be difficult doesn’t mean they’ll be impossible. A good rule of thumb is to develop a strategy as early as possible. It should include everything from what you want your daily routine to look like to what you might do when you’re faced with a challenge or trigger. Having a plan in place will make you feel more equipped to handle those challenges as they come.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. You already know how crucial it is to have a support system during recovery. That doesn’t go away. If you’re struggling because you’re worried about relapse, reach out to that support system.
Attend a group meeting, talk to a family member, or even a counselor or therapist. Knowing you don’t have to bear the weight of your struggles on your own can make a big difference, and can put you back in control of your recovery journey.