More thank likely, at some point in your recovery you will have a relapse. Of course it is your goal in life not to relapse, that is really the whole point to all of the work we are doing. But mistakes will happen. The most important thing to do is learn from your mistakes. No one is perfect, everyone f’s up from time to time, but a relapse can be a learning experience if you choose to make it one.
There are tons of myths out there regarding the subject of relapse. Most of these myths are due to lack of education. I wanted to list some of the myths floating around and give some reasons on why they are false. I hope this helps someone out there because this information helped me immensely when I relapsed.
Myth #1. Relapse is a sign of recovery failure
Fact: Relapse does not mean that you failed or that your recovery is flawed. A relapse means that you made a mistake and once you identify something as a mistake you can be more aware of it and therefor can avoid it in the future.
Myth#2. Relapse is a sign of poor motivation
Fact: No one is guaranteed a lifetime of abstinence no matter how motivated they are. Unfortunately relapse is a normal part of the addictive disease and no matter how sincere you are about recovering you can slip up.
Myth#3. Relapse starts the instance you “use”
Fact: Relapse starts way before you ever take the first drink or drug. Relapse begins when you start reverting to your old way of thinking and behaving. When you stuff your feelings, start to isolate, put yourself in dangerous situations or don’t seek enough support you are already in a dangerous situation. The drug or alcohol is actually the end point in the relapse not the beginning.
Myth#4. Relapse is unpredictable and therefor unavoidable
Fact: Since we have already confirmed that using is the end point of the actual relapse and not the beginning, there are tons of signals that show you are headed down this path. Having the disease of addiction means that you cannot control your use once you start using. It doesn’t mean that you have no control over whether or not you use. Big difference there. Look for the signs and be honest with yourself.
Myth #5. Relapse applies only to your drug of choice
Fact: Any kind of mood altering substance that you use to anesthetize your feelings is a relapse. It’s just that simple.
Myth#6. Relapse cancels all progress made up to that point
Fact: Your time and experience in recovery does not disappear just because you relapsed. Your sober time does unfortunately end but there is a difference between your time in recovery and the sober time you have under your belt. The quicker you get yourself clean and back into your recovery the better.
Myth#7. If relapse isn’t the end of recovery then it’s ok to have one
Fact: Although relapse is common, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t dangerous. A relapse is a return to the unmanageability and the insanity of your disease. Unfortunately some people never make it back.
Here is my advice to you. If you relapse, be honest with yourself. Face the fact that it happened but don’t beat yourself up over it. You were wrong, you are not perfect. You need to be aware of the reasons that it was able to happen. You also need to get back on track with your recovery as soon as possible. Go to a meeting, talk to someone and share the fact that you had a relapse. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s OK.