Prevent Relapse - What to Do after You Slip
If you slip, it does not mean that you are a failure, and it does not mean that you need to start using again. Get immediate help from your support network, and start living one day at a time once again. The road to full recovery never ends, and a few bumps in the road are to be expected. Have the courage and the strength to get help when you need it, and never think that because you've slipped, you have to go back to abuse.
Most addicts that have successfully beaten their dependency have slipped or even relapsed once or more. Recovery is a journey, and there is no overnight cure. You should take steps to minimize the likelihood of a slip or relapse, and you do need to take responsibility for your actions and even your thoughts, but if a slip occurs, you also need to deal with it, and not use it as an excuse to throw away all of your hard work and fall back into your old ways.
The best way to maintain long term sobriety is to minimize the temptation to abuse, maintain appropriate family, peer and professional aftercare support, and live one day at a time with the goal of a day of sobriety above all else. The urge to use lessens with time, but you never know when that urge can come back with a vengeance, and often it’s after we think that the real danger has passed, that we are most vulnerable to a slip.
The two periods that are most dangerous are the period immediately after rehab, and the period a few months later, when our confidence increases to the point that we may let our guard down.
If You Slip...
But if a slip does occur, and it very well might, remember that one slip does not mean that your rehab is a failure, or that you have to resume your old ways.
You don’t need to feel ashamed, but you do need to get help right away. Never be ashamed of your behavior, and never try to hide your slip from the people that care about you. Speak with your family, speak with your therapist; speak with anyone who you think can help! Increase the intensity of your aftercare support, stay close to family for a while, and chalk it up to a learning experience.
Addiction recovery is a process, and it can take a long time. Many people will need recurrent treatment throughout their life to deal with the temptations that lead to slips and full blown relapses. Get the help you need and do what's necessary to get sober. I've been to rehab twice, and although I think I'm done, I know that I can’t guarantee myself that I'll never again use or never again require professional treatment. I know that I'm powerless over my addiction and that I can only hope to control it, and will never truly beat it. I accept this as truth…but I work determinately to save myself and my family the pain that my use always brings.
If you fall down, lift yourself up and carry on. Everyone makes a mistake, but it takes real courage and strength to take responsibility for your actions, and get the help you need whenever you need it.
Months or Years Later
The second very dangerous period for a slip occurs after a period of months or even years, when we finally feel confident that we have beaten our addiction for good, and no longer need to attend meetings, or rely on the support of family and friends.
During this period of overconfidence, a sudden stressful, event, a major life change, or seemingly nothing at all, can conspire to create a slip back into using.
Again, remember the lessons learned in rehab, and remember that these lessons were not intended to expire after a period of months. Live your life in such a way to minimize temptations, continue to rely on your support network, and continue with some degree of aftercare support. When you finally think you no longer need aftercare…spend another year with it just to make sure!
Just After Rehab
When just out of rehab, the temptations of the home environment assault you, and you are no longer in the safe and drug free world of rehab.
Old friends will try to contact you, old situations will reemerge, and old stresses will bring back those cravings. We know that we have to restructure our lives to get rid of the temptations, but what seemed so sensible and obvious in rehab can become more complex and problematic when it needs to happen in reality. Too many people succumb to feelings of helplessness and powerlessness over their addiction during these initial days and weeks, and too often an initial slip during these first few weeks can become a complete relapse into addiction.
Remember the lessons learned during rehab, use the strength of your family and real friends for support when you need it, make full use of any aftercare services provided and make a real effort to rid yourself from the triggers to abuse. This period is never easy, and it can feel overwhelming, but just take it one day at a time, or even one hour at a time, and it will pass, and it will get easier. Every day of sobriety makes that next one just a little bit easier, and remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Keep busy, enjoy the clarity and the sobriety and spend time with good friends and family.
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