One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The Art of Falling and Getting Back Up in Recovery

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

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Imagine that everything has been going very well for you in recovery lately. You’ve met all of your goals that you’ve had set for yourself, and your therapist has commended you on your diligence in meeting those goals. You’ve been feeling great…but suddenly it all stops. You become a whirlwind of emotions one evening, and you feel all of this negative energy creeping in. Before you know it, you’ve relapsed, and you feel like it’s all gone terribly wrong. “How did this happen?” you may ask yourself. “Everything was going so well – where did it all go wrong, and where do I go from here?”

Recovery is a lot like life. There are ups and downs and, at times, we may act in ways that contradict our values. This doesn’t mean that we have failed – it simply means that more reinforcement is needed, and/or we need a minor adjustment to our treatment regime. Perhaps something you’ve been working on in treatment hasn’t truly “sunk in” for you or you just don’t connect with it – that’s okay, as there are many treatment modalities for this very reason. If you’ve relapsed, you will want to work with your therapist to identify what led to this event. There are a number of triggers that could have affected you without you realizing it, such as:

  • Stress
  • No longer receiving rewards for remaining drug-free (contingency management)
  • Over-confidence
  • Depression
  • Upsetting events
  • Rumination
  • Self-sabotage
  • Anger
  • Peer pressure
  • Lack of support
  • Seeking or being reminded of drug use
  • Cravings

Relapse shouldn’t be seen as a terrible event, because you may be able to identify a new trigger that you weren’t aware of before. This new discovery is like finding a gold mine because you’re able to work towards response prevention of that trigger in the future. A 2015 study conducted by researchers from Canada titled, “Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery” denotes several lessons that successful individuals in recovery have found to aid in their journey: 1) create a new life where it’s much easier to not use substances, 2) be completely honest with yourself and others, even it’s uncomfortable or painful, 3) ask for help when you need it, 4) practice self-care every day, and 5) don’t bend the rules that you and your recovery leaders set for yourself. Don’t let relapse set you back. Come back even stronger than you were before. Keep pushing forward.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.

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