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American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

You’ve Fallen Off the Wagon – Now What?

For anyone struggling with chemical dependency, experiencing a relapse can be disappointing and difficult to understand. It feels like a crushing blow, but the trick is to turn a negative experience to your advantage.

If you’re willing to look at it positively, a relapse can provide you with the opportunity to learn, grow and strengthen your sobriety.

What Really Happened Here?

If you’ve relapsed, there are a few things you can to do to make your return to sobriety a little easier:

  • Tell Someone:
    It’s scary to be honest about a relapse. You feel like a failure and fear others’ judgement. Try reaching out to a trusted friend or therapist. Just saying it out loud is major step forward. As they say in AA, “you’re only as sick as your secrets.” Honesty is the most powerful tool you have against addiction; by owning your truth, you can begin to heal.
  • Get Help:
    Recovery isn’t something you go through alone. And just because you didn’t stay sober doesn’t mean you’re excluded from recovery support groups. In fact, it’s just the opposite. As long as you have a desire to be sober, you’re welcome in a support group. For some people, returning to inpatient or outpatient treatment is also an option.
  • Be Gentle on Yourself:
    Your first instinct might be to beat yourself up, but getting stuck in negative thought patterns only makes the cycle worse. Instead of wallowing in guilt and shame, forgive yourself. You have to keep things in perspective; you’ve had a setback – it does not mean you’re a failure.
  • Avoid Triggers:
    It’s essential to avoid potential triggers — especially those that propelled you to start using in the first place. Some people drink over relationship problems, while others are triggered by simply being around booze. And for some, being around family creates an urge to drink or use. Once you figure out your potential tripwires, it’s much easier to avoid them.
  • Take Things One Day at a Time:
    It’s easy to spin out in fear of the future. The best thing you can do to is focus on staying sober today. There’s no reason to worry about tomorrow until you get there.
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