Relapses are extremely common during addiction recovery. A common base estimate is that 40 to 60 percent of people relapse during the first year. Other estimates suggest that at least 90 percent of people recovering from alcohol use disorder relapse at least once before they can maintain a stable recovery and the same may be true of people with opioid use disorder. Some even go so far as to say that relapse is part of recovery, although others see this as expecting to fail. Whether or not you see relapse as part of recovery, the important thing is what you do after a relapse.

First, stop digging.

If you’ve slipped up and had a drink or used again, or if you’ve had a full relapse, the most important thing is to stop digging. There is a tendency to feel that once you’ve ruined your sober streak, you might as well go all out. You might be feeling self-pity or you might be feeling the need to punish yourself. None of that will help. The best thing you can do now is stop using right away. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

Assess the damage.

Not all relapses are equal. If you’ve only slipped up and used once, or had a drink or two, it’s relatively easy to get back on the wagon. The real danger is thinking that your slip up proves you can use moderately. You may even be able to use moderately for a time, but then immoderate use starts creeping back in and before you know it, you’re back where you started. If you’ve had a full relapse, meaning you resumed using at or near your previous levels for days, weeks, or months, you might consider going back into treatment. At the very least, you should talk to your therapist or counselor about how to get back on track.

Commit to trying again.

A relapse is a setback, but it’s not a failure. Many people relapse several times before they can sustain recovery. Decide that you will be one of the people who eventually succeed, even if you didn’t quite get it right the first time.

Figure out what went wrong.

Take stock of what went wrong, and what went right. Did some unexpected challenge like a job loss or death in the family undermine your recovery? If so, you may have been doing everything right and you just were unlucky. On the other hand, if you had neglected some key part of your recovery plan, or had trouble dealing with some particular situation, you might benefit from giving those circumstances special attention.

Make corrections and try again.

Once you’ve figured out what went wrong, change your plan to account for that and try again. You might end up relapsing again, or you might stay sober for a long time. The important thing is to commit to the process and be willing to learn and make corrections as you go.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.