If I Relapse, What Will Happen?

Research shows that between 40 and 60 percent of all recovering addicts relapse at some point. So, if you regress, you will not be the first or only person ever to experience a setback on your path to sobriety. You will, however, find yourself facing an essential choice after the fact – how you choose to handle your relapse.

Often, after a relapse, people feel as if they’ve failed. They’re tempted to give in and return to the grip of the substance that has taken over their life. They feel an overwhelming amount of shame and desire to give up.

Relapse has the potential to provide essential lessons that create an even stronger foundation for your life of sobriety – if you are willing to listen.

Understanding the situations and choices that lead up to your moment of weakness can help to clarify your triggers. You might find that you stopped attending meetings or therapy and, as a result, were not making sober living your most important focus. Your lack of a strong sobriety support system might become apparent. Maybe you will find that you didn’t honestly want to quit for yourself but instead did it for a loved one. Another common lesson is that you need more time in rehab and a stronger aftercare plan.

If you only used once, you might need the reality check from your actions and the ability to fall back on the tools and recovery plan you developed during rehab. You can attend a 12-Step meeting or schedule an extra therapy session. If you remain committed to your recovery, you might not need to return to rehab.

However, if you’ve fallen back into your regular old actions, then returning to rehab might be the best choice for you. More cognitive behavior therapy will help to retrain your brain and teach you to avoid reacting to triggers in the same way. Additionally, you’ll find yourself with an opportunity to develop a new aftercare plan that takes your relapse and experience in the real world after rehab into account.

Overall, relapsing does not mean you have failed at recovery. It does not say you will never be entirely sober. It just shows in which areas you may need more tools, support, and intentionality in your life.