Getting back up after a relapse. Today’s blog is a collaboration piece written by Bethany Hatton. Bethany, a retired librarian with 32 years of experience, created after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids. Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction; she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.

The road to recovery from substance abuse is long and winding. Maybe the road has been straight as an arrow for a while. But relapse into old behaviors is still a very real possibility. In fact, between 40 and 60 percent of people who are treated for drug addiction will relapse, and the rate of relapse after treatment for alcohol addiction is about 90 percent. If you or a loved one falls into one of these categories, here are a few steps you can take to move forward after your relapse.

Take Responsibility for Your Relapse

The first step is to take ownership of what you have done. You must accept that you made a mistake. You must acknowledge that the mistake is very serious. And that you need help to overcome your problems. You won’t be able to fix the problem if you don’t acknowledge it. So admit what happened, forgive yourself and be ready to move forward immediately. You also need to involve your friends and family as soon as you can. A strong network is important to recovery. It’s essential that you plug into your network as soon as you can to keep your relapse from continuing. Research has shown that those who do not receive adequate support after a relapse are not likely to return to treatment. Social support is vital to recovery.

Get Professional Help

Support from family and friends is vital, but it’s not enough on its own. To fully and seriously deal with your relapse and get back on the straight road, you need professional treatment for your addiction. An addiction specialist will help you deal with your relapse, restart the recovery process and keep relapses from occurring again. Your professional treatment can include a customized treatment program designed specifically for your needs, along with monitoring and support as needed. An addiction specialist will also give you relapse prevention tools to use each day, and they may organize support meetings to give you stability. They should also encourage empowerment as you live your new lifestyle, so you can build a healthy base of self-reliance.

Adjust Your Strategy

Your relapse does not necessarily mean your drug or alcohol abuse treatment plan has failed. You just need to adjust your plan as you remember that relapse is a natural stage of recovery. Talk to your support network and your treatment specialist to analyze why your relapse occurred. Once you have this information, you will be able to adjust your treatment plan. This way you can avoid the triggers that brought it about. You might decide to re-enter treatment to focus entirely on your recovery. If you do so, you will come back and build your foundation stronger than ever.

Avoid Enablers

Your support system is important, but if you have family and friends enabling the behavior that led to your relapse, this will actually hurt you instead of help you. People may think they are being kind to you when they ignore your unacceptable behavior. Or they may lie to cover up your mistakes, but this really only serves to dig your hole even deeper. One of the best things you can do is have a friend or family member who is willing to tell you the truth, even when it’s hard for you to hear. Don’t push these people away – keep them as close as possible.

Do You or a Loved One Need Help?

Once you have followed these steps, you will have a good strategy in place to recover from your relapse. Remember that relapses are common and do not mean you are destined for failure. With a good support system, professional help and a will to succeed, you can kick your substance abuse habit once and for all.

At Cristina Panaccione and Associates we have two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients for addiction treatment. Check out some of our Coffee with a Counselor videos to learn more about the ways we can help you find recovery!


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.

Tiffany Song is a cognitive-behavioral therapist at heart. However, she often incorporates other treatments (exposure, mindfulness, meditation, behavior modification, etc.) to meet her client’s needs. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003. And has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2006. In 2011, she completed a 10-month intensive training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of working with clients of various ages learn new ways of thinking. In doing this, they can live the lives that they want to live.

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