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Relapse During Recovery - Does It Equal Failure?

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Therapy Blog for Counseling in Sacramento - Relationship Therapy Center

Relapse During Recovery - Does It Equal Failure?

Nancy Ryan

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Relapse does not mean that your recovery has failed. Relapse is a normal part of recovery.

Addiction is a chronic and complex disease. Drugs change the way the brain works. This fact makes quitting very hard even for people that want to stop. The chronic nature of addiction means that relapse is bound to happen. Relapse occurs in drug dependence just as it does in other chronic medical illnesses like asthma and heart disease.

Tips for Dealing With Relapse  

Fortunately, if you do have a relapse, there are some things that you can do to get back on track. Here are some tips to help you move past a relapse and continue on your journey towards long-term sobriety.

#1 Identify Triggers

Think about what triggered your substance use. Were you spending time with people who you used to party within the past? Did you put yourself in a tempting situation? Were you experiencing a stressful day at work? Did you argue with your significant other? The triggers for a relapse vary from one person to the next. You need to find out what your specific triggers are and what you can do next time to cope with them.

#2 Talk To A Counselor

One of the very first things that you should do if you have experienced a relapse is to talk with an addiction therapist. Ongoing therapy is a good idea for anyone with a history of substance abuse. So, if you are not already in treatment, then that is something that you should be doing.  Therapy can help you develop ways to cope with stress and other things that trigger substance abuse.

#3 Find New Hobbies

Boredom is a trigger to substance use for many people. One of the challenges that you will face in recovery is how to fill your free time. Find positive ways to enrich your life and stay busy. Examples might be to take up sailing, volunteer at a local community art center or learn to do yoga. When choosing hobbies, consider your strengths and what you like doing.


#4 Find a Support System

Although you might be tempted to hide your relapse from family or friends, avoid that temptation. This is the time that you need support more than anything. Social support is vital in recovery. Talking to friends and family can help you find solutions to stressful events. It can enhance your well-being and find the strength to resist the urge to use. If you don't have positive family members or friends that you can count on, consider joining a 12-step or other recovery group. Even if you have lots of support, a 12-step group can be an excellent resource for anyone going through recovery.  In the Sacramento area, here is a link to AA

#5 Don’t Give Up

The most important tip that I can give you for dealing with a relapse is not to give up. Remember that a slip-up does not equal failure and take steps to avoid future relapses. Gain recovery tools to help you maintain sobriety for good.  

Remember — relapse does not mean that you have failed. If you have experienced a setback and are looking for a therapist in the greater Sacramento area of Fair Oaks, CA, then contact us to schedule an appointment for Sacramento addiction counseling. You can regain sobriety with the help of one of our therapists.

Rob Evans, LMFT, LPCC

Rob Evans, LMFT, LPCC


Rob Evans, is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience helping men, women, families and couples improve their relationships with themselves and those around him in the Fair Oaks, CA area.   He specializes in using Cognitive Therapy or CBT to help people change the way you think, feel and behave now. He is our addiction specialist.