Relapse Is Not a Reset in Recovery
by 449 Staff

With success, there will always be a failure, whether it is large or minuscule. However, those failures do not have to warrant a reaction or a feeling of shame. If someone compliments you, you can choose to be affected or not be affected by that complement, and if someone insults you, you may choose to get upset, or you can choose not to be at all. This concept derives from Deepak Chopra and can be applied to anything in life, especially failure. 

When you do something that you did not initially intend to do, and it is defined as a failure, your reaction to it is completely up to you. Shame is conditioned; all of the thoughts and feelings of shame you experience stem from someone else’s ideas, assumptions, and judgments – not your own. Remember, you can only control your own self; you cannot control how someone else reacts. Although someone else may see your relapse as a reset, you do not need to do so. 

Accepting Relapse

Whether you deem your relapse as a failure or not, it is essential to accept that the relapse occurred. Accept what has happened, how it happened, and then instead of harping over it, transition into a way of thinking about what you can do right now. You can move forward. 

Relapse does not mean you have lost all progress, and all of your hard work toward recovery was for nothing. All of your hard work is still there, and everything you have built and developed is right there within you. Just because you mess up does not mean you forget all of the knowledge you have learned along the way.

Relapse does not mean you have to restart at the beginning again; relapse is more of a bump in the road in a life-long journey. There will always be obstacles; what matters is how you move forward. For some, relapse can be a slippery slope, but that is usually because they treat it as an end-all-be-all.

Success in Self-Compassion

The amount of success that can come from self-compassion is endless. When you do something unplanned that hurts you or others, self-compassion is essential. Understand that you are human, and your life will forever be full of highs and lows. 

If you are stuck in a state of being your own worst critic, making yourself feel bad, imagine that you were your best friend. If your best friend was in recovery and relapsed, would you tell them that they are a failure? Would you tell them that everything they worked for is gone and the only place to go now is backward? Would you look at them in the eyes and tell them that everyone they love is going to condemn them and forget about how far they have come? The answer is no; you would not. Rarely do people put as much pressure on others as they do themselves. 

If relapse occurs, take time to focus on the positives and celebrate your wins. If you can, look back on all of the incredible things you have done and how far you have come from day one. Think about all of those big or small successes and soak in what it feels like to love and be proud of yourself. If you can’t do it on your own, find a loved one or friend who can remind you of those things, someone who, regardless of the state you are in, will see all of the beauty within you. 

Seek Support

You may already know what triggered you to relapse and how you got there, but you also may not, and that is okay. If you need help to find out what occurred and what you can do to move forward, reach for it. Do not hesitate to seek help in the places you know where to find it. Connect with the community you have built for yourself in your recovery because you built it for a reason. Some people may need to seek treatment again, and some may not, but advocate for yourself and do what is best for you.

Although you may not want to go to that group, message that sponsor, find that detox center, or call that therapist, it may just save your life. Knowing the steps to take after relapse can save you from spiraling downward. Instead, you can use what you have learned to be even more serious and passionate about your recovery.  Be honest and open with yourself and do whatever you need to do regardless of anyone else’s judgments.

Often, people relapse, and they or the people around them seem to completely lose sight of their accomplishments. There is a choice in this, and whatever you choose will shape how you move forward. If you accept your failures and learn and grow from them, you will not be hindering yourself. Approach yourself with self-compassion and understand that practicing this can be used to your advantage. At 449 Recovery, we will never put someone down when they have come to us and shared that they have relapsed. We will sit with them and assess what happened and what can be done moving forward. We will assist them in creating a plan of action and assure them that the wins and losses are all a part of the process. If you or someone you know has relapsed and needs support, call 449 Recovery today at (949) 435-7449.



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