Posted by Steps to Recovery on March 22, 2013

When you or a loved one are in recovery, a relapse can feel like the end of the world. It can bring up so many emotions; disappointment, anger, shame, fear and failure to name a few of the things people feel when they relapse. Here are 5 important things about relapse to remember that may help prevent it from happening or make recovering from a relapse a little easier.

  1. Relapse can happen anytime, even when things are going good. The addicted person feels healthy, confident, and possibly even “cured” and feels that he or she can handle casual use of drugs or alcohol. The individual may recall the “honeymoon period” of their substance use their recreational use didn’t cause issues — and that may seem appealing. But because of the way addiction affects the individual and since the substance changes the way the brain functions, the recovering person is no longer able to use drugs or alcohol in a casual or “controlled” way.
  2. Relapse is not uncommon. Although relapse does not happen to everyone, it is a fairly common experience for people in recovery. Many people have one or more relapses before achieving long-lasting sobriety. It’s ok if someone relapses, but it is really important to address the situation and get back to recovery.
  3. Relapse can be a learning experience. Addiction  and recovery experts have found that a relapse can be an important opportunity for the recovering addict as well as their family members to identify what triggered the relapse and find ways to avoid having it happen again.
  4. If you or your loved one experiences a relapse, reach out for help immediately. This is the best thing you can do to help yourself or your loved one in this situation. Addiction experts can help you get back on the right track quickly and help you learn valuable lessons that are often hidden in relapse. Just getting support from the recovery community can lift you back up and provide you the encouragement you need to get back on the road to long term sobriety.

Even though it may feel crushing, relapse is not the end of the world. With the support of others and the ability to look at the situation objectively, you can get right back to your recovery goals and a relapse can be a valuable learning experience.

Have you ever relapsed? What did you learn from it?