According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 60% of individuals suffering from addiction relapse at some point. This is on par with other common medical illnesses, indicating that addiction is a disease like any other. Although relapse is an isolating, scary, and stigmatized event, it’s possible to come through a relapse stronger than ever before. Taking care of yourself in this vulnerable time is essential to long term health.

If you or a loved one has experienced a relapse, it is important that you address the situation. Below are some tips that may help after a relapse has occurred. You can also learn more about how our program helps to address relapse concerns by visiting our program page.

Forgive Yourself

In some cases, people become so caught up in the idea that they have control over their drinking or drug use behavior that they forget that addiction is a disease. While it’s true that a person can overcome urges to use, there is a biological reason that the body craves the drug. Forgiving yourself for the relapse is the first step in returning to recovery. Remember that thousands of people struggling with addiction have been in your shoes and gone on to live happy, successful, sober lives. Relapse is just one mistake; it does not mean that you are fundamentally weak or worthless.

Recommit to Sobriety

Perhaps, after a particularly stressful day of work, a person succumbed to old habits and stopped by the local bar for several drinks. The next day, that person has a choice to make. Will he or she fall back into old patterns or recommit to sobriety? Keep in mind that sobriety is series of choices made daily or moment-to-moment. Slipping up once does not mean a person needs to continue the habit. Calling a sponsor or a close friend to verbally recommit to sobriety is a smart step to get back on track.

Surround Yourself with Healthy Role Models

Although struggling with addiction is often conceptualized as something that a person must do through his own willpower, it’s essential to acknowledge the importance of social support. People who have overcome addiction and maintained long term sobriety often cite the help of friends, family, or support groups as critical to their progress. Don’t be shy about addiction issues. Telling loved ones that you’re struggling to maintain sobriety allows them to help lift you out of your despair. Committing to healthy behaviors, such as frequent exercise, a healthy diet, and social activities with friends, is a great way to overcome a relapse.

Identify Common Triggers

In many cases, relapse occurs when a person finds themselves in situations similar to previous, drug-using days. A trigger might be running into an old friend who loved to party or simply finding oneself lonely and bored at home. Knowing personal triggers can help the individual struggling with addiction identify situations that are dangerous to sobriety. Also remember that an urge is just that — the body craving the drug and urging you to use. Cravings do not mean that a person is weak or unable to maintain long term sobriety. Although urges may feel very powerful, it’s each person’s choice whether to obey the urge or to deal with it until it passes.

Seek Professional Relapse Prevention Help

Addiction is a problem that’s hard to overcome alone. Seeking professional help provides the person struggling with addiction a set of tools needed to acknowledge the relapse, make positive life changes, and combat the urge to use. Professional treatment is invaluable to prevent future relapse episodes.