You have a community in addiction treatment.
You know you are not alone in recovery. Well, the first thing to know about relapse is that you have a community here, too.
Addiction follows the same patterns as other chronic illnesses, with the rate of relapse at 40 to 60 percent. That is midway between the rate of relapse for diabetes and hypertension! A more complete recovery is possible, but know that you are not alone in struggling to get there.
In the meantime, it is important to remember that relapse does not erase all that you have done in your journey towards recovery. You get to keep that progress in the support network you have formed and in the knowledge you have gained about your experience with addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “For a person recovering from addiction, lapsing back to drug use indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted or that another treatment should be tried.” Relapse does not mean that your recovery has failed: it is just another step in your personal journey.
When returning to treatment, the self-knowledge you have gained can become another tool to empower your recovery. What worked and what did not—these are not shameful things to shy away from. Your struggles, as much as your milestones, are meaningful steps toward an enduring recovery.
What was a positive force in your recovery? Just because you experienced a relapse does not mean that your overall treatment experience was ineffective. Identify the parts of your recovery that were working for you. Emulate those pieces of your recovery process after relapse. Build upon the good things.
What were your triggers? Recognize the parts of your life that interfered with your recovery journey. And remember, this is not an exercise in self-blame but rather self-awareness. If you are being honest with yourself, what pieces of your life contributed to the relapse? Reflect how you could reduce or eliminate those factors after you resume treatment.
What would you like to try differently? Often, the impact of residential treatment programs on recovery is underestimated. The total support one finds at the beginning of one’s recovery can be hard to replicate in your ordinary, day-to-day life. What you can do is be attentive to your aftercare. Follow the guidelines set out for you in treatment. Push yourself toward self-care, and use every resource you can. You deserve it.