Drug Addiction Treatment
a woman wonders what to do if you relapse
By BrightView
Author Dan Bielecki, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS
Avatar photo
Dan Bielecki, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Dan is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with supervision designation (LPCC-S) and a Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor... read more

Published: November 18, 2021
Updated: November 4, 2021

When you take the step to get help for substance use disorder, you may be hard on yourself if you relapse before completing treatment. However, you must realize that recovery is a journey with many detours. Relapse is a normal part of that journey, so you must not beat yourself up over it. What matters most is that you course-correct and get back on your path. When you enroll in an addiction aftercare program, you will always have access to the support you need to stay on track.

At BrightView, we understand how relapse can occur, even with the best intentions. Our addiction aftercare program provides you with the tools and support to keep you focused on getting back on your path, rather than letting relapse halt your progress. Call us today at 888.501.9865 to learn more about how our aftercare program can support your lifelong recovery.

What to Do if You Relapse

What does it mean to relapse? The term relapse refers to using drugs or alcohol after a period of abstinence. This abstinence can be self-imposed, such as when quitting cold turkey; involuntary, when you cannot access the substance; or when receiving professional treatment for substance use disorder. There are many reasons a person may relapse, but most often, it is due to intense cravings for the substance. When relapse happens, you have a choice to let it stunt your recovery or take it for what it is — a temporary setback and probably even a learning experience. The way you choose to respond to relapse will dictate your success in recovery. Here are some tips for the best ways to handle a relapse:

  • First of all, forgive yourself. Relapse happens and may happen many more times as you continue on your recovery journey.
  • Talk to someone, such as a trusted friend or family member. Feeling alone only makes relapse worse, so it is beneficial to have a conversation with a loved one who can provide support and a listening ear.
  • Reach out to others who have experienced a relapse. This is why it is crucial to join support groups and surround yourself with others in recovery. They can truly understand what you are going through and provide you with guidance and advice on what helped them through a past relapse.
  • Speak with a healthcare professional. Whether you call an addiction treatment center or a mental health provider, they can assess you and determine if you should enroll in treatment to help you get back on your feet.

Having a plan for what to do after a relapse can help get you back on track faster and easier. Even if your recovery has been successful thus far, keep these tips in mind if you experience a future relapse.

How to Decrease the Risk of Relapse

Now that you know what to do if you relapse, it helps to devise a relapse prevention plan to reduce the risk of it happening again. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare:

  • Practice good self-care habits. Enjoying a sober lifestyle is much easier when you keep stress in check. Make some time to relax each day, whether through reading, journaling, meditation, yoga, napping, or playing with children or pets.
  • Join a peer recovery support program. These groups connect you with others in recovery who can be a source of comfort, guidance, and assistance in various areas of your life. 
  • Avoid or eliminate triggers as much as possible. This may mean avoiding certain people or places until you are more established in your recovery.

Having a relapse prevention plan in place can help prevent the recurrence of relapse. 

Enjoy Long-Term Recovery Support with BrightView’s Addiction Aftercare Program

At BrightView, we understand that relapse is a natural part of the recovery process. If you have experienced a relapse, reach out to us for non-judgmental care and support. Our addiction aftercare program will always be there to guide you back to your recovery path. Call us today at 888.501.9865 to learn more about how we can provide you with ongoing support.