Co-workers invited you out, and you had a drink. Then one drink turned into five. And before you knew it, you were back into drinking. Again.
If you’ve recently gotten off the road to recovery and gone back to an addiction, you’re not alone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that up to 60 percent of people who go through a treatment program will relapse at least once.
Feel like quitting and giving up? Don’t! Recovery after a relapse is possible! Here are some guidelines to get you started.
No matter what your drug of choice is—alcohol, drugs, sex, or shopping, etc.—respond to your relapse immediately. A good first step is to make a 24-hour commitment to stay sober. You will probably be feeling pretty bad about yourself after a slip, and you might dread facing your problems. The idea to take it “one day at a time” is helpful here, too. Promise yourself and a friend that won’t drink (or whatever addiction you turn to) for just the next 24 hours. If necessary, you may need to contact 911 or go to the nearest emergency room to get help for any medical issues you might have involving going through a detox.
If you have a counselor, mentor, support group, or treatment center that has helped you in the past or is currently helping you, now is the time to contact them and tell them you had a relapse. It is common for relapse to occur when you don’t have an adequate support system in place. Even if you don’t have a support system in place now, you can always find help. Perhaps you could attend a meeting like a Life Recovery Group, or go to an Alcoholics Anonymous group. It’s important to go to a meeting within the next few hours to help you get back on track and seek help before it’s too late.
Know Your Triggers
Make a list of the people, places and things that are dangerous to you. These are the situations that may trigger you or prompt the need to drink, use drugs, gamble, engage in compulsive sexual activity, overeat, shop or other addictive behavior. Next to each trigger, write down ways that you can deal with these situations as they arise. Use the acronym of “HALT” as a reminder of what you need to do. Don’t allow yourself to get:
Replace Bad Habits
By becoming aware of your triggers, you can ensure you’re doing everything in your power to avoid stress and relapse. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as you learn to replace your bad habits with good ones:
- Eat regular nutritious meals.
Include fresh vegetables and fruit, fiber, and protein at every meal.
- Exercise regularly.
You don’t have to join a gym, but aim for 30 minutes of exercise on most days.
- Get enough rest.
Aim for at least 8 hours a sleep by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
- Go to a meeting.
Or, call a mentor or friend when you’re tempted to use. Just talking to someone will help you take your mind off of your feelings for a while—and this may be all that it takes to lift your mood.
You may have gotten off the road to recovery. But that doesn’t mean the end of the road for you! Even if you’ve had multiple relapses, it doesn’t mean that you are beyond God’s help and are to blame. You just need to be willing look at your life. And turn to the Lord! Lamentations 3:40 says, “Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.”
By examining your life and turning back to the Lord, you’ll be back on the road to recovery in no time!