So you or your loved one relapsed after being in a drug treatment program?

Does that mean all the hard work in sobriety was a waste? No.

Does that mean they immediately need to go back to treatment? Probably not. A relapse is simply a setback from a period of improvement; it is not a failure.

[bctt tweet=”A relapse is a setback, not a failure.”]

If the addict does not apply what they have gone through in treatment on a daily basis in the real world, than relapse is a high possibility. Many drug treatment centers are very effective and have lasting results of sobriety for clients, but there is always the potential for relapse. It does not matter how much a rehab costs or how strong their treatment program is, if there is no motivation from the addict to be sober, the change will not occur.

Many professionals say relapse is part of the recovery process and can be beneficial once everything is stabilized and knowledge can be gained from the experience. In fact, most say a relapse after recovery is the rule and not the exception. So, don’t worry–you’re not alone.

 Here are 11 tips for after a relapse occurs to help you regain balance:

1. Understand what a relapse is.

 It is important to realize what a relapse means. It is a setback, not a failure, and progress can still be achieved going forward.  Some say it is as simple as a coping response.  If you are put in a high-risk situation and are not equipped with the tools or ability to handle it in a healthy manner, the outcome increases to a relapse and a learning experience hopefully.

2. Ask for help.

 It may be scary to reach for help when things seem to be falling apart, but support is usually just a phone call away. Here is a sober resource page to ask for help.

3. Get stabilized. 

Getting out of the fog from the relapse is critical. Depending upon the drug, a medical detox might be necessary. Make sure you are properly assessed by a medical professional and DO NOT try to detox yourself.

4. Understand why the relapse occurred. 

Typically a relapse occurs way before the drug is consumed. Knowing your thought patterns and emotional responses before the drug use will be a good indication of how to prevent a relapse going forward.  It boils down to:

why does relapse occur

5. Find out what your triggers are. 

Once you establish these triggers you can start over on creating strategies to manage them.

6. Work on being assertive. 

Sometimes it feels like saying “no” is a sure way to hurt or anger people, so boundaries are sacrificed when they shouldn’t be. Assertiveness in the real world is key to avoiding relapse. Learn how to tell people “no” in a polite and respectful way, and chances are good that people will be respectful back.

7.  Find a stress outlet. 

Yoga, hiking, running – anything that releases endorphins and is a healthy way to manage stress.

8. Use your DBT skills. 

Distress tolerance and problem solving skills should be touched on as it pertains to them.

9. Stay in the moment. 

Anxiety might be extremely high after a relapse. Learn to meditate, breathe, and practice mindfulness. Find ways to ground yourself if you find that things are escalating.

10. Find a sober network. 

Having a support from a sober network is crucial after a relapse. People that are not in recovery usually do not understand completely what you might be going through.

11.Create a new relapse plan

Since the original plan did not work, create a new plan to prevent a future relapse. Practice self-compassion and remember that though this plan did not work, you are not a failure.

Although these tips and advice after relapse can be helpful, it is always important to try to stick to a solid relapse prevention plan.

This includes: avoiding high-risk situations or behaviors, developing and using a positive support network, creating and sticking to a healthy schedule, being mindful of your disease and mental health; and accepting relapse as a learning tool, not a failure.