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Coming Back From a Relapse? Here's What to Do Next

We’ve all heard the infamous saying that relapse is a part of recovery. But what happens if you’re coming back from a relapse, and you’re not sure what to do next? What happens when you’re feeling lost, confused, angry, and ashamed? How do you pick up the shattered pieces and keep moving forward?

Reflect on What Happened

Relapse is one thing. But how you respond to the relapse can determine how you continue to move forward. You owe it to yourself to assess the situation and thoroughly reflect on what happened. It’s a good idea to have this discussion with someone you trust, such as a sober friend, therapist, or sponsor.

Typically, relapses occur because of specific triggers or unhealthy situations. Were you spending time with someone who was actively using? Was work stressing you out more than usual the past few weeks? Did you stop adhering to your regular self-care routine? Remember that relapse doesn’t necessarily occur from one, single trigger. It can happen after a series of small stressors and setbacks. Some other common triggers include:

  • Spending time with people who negatively influence you.

  • Avoiding responsibilities like chores or paying bills.

  • Feeling overwhelmed.

  • Avoiding recovery meetings or therapy sessions.

  • Not taking your prescribed medication or not taking it appropriately.

  • Struggling with negative thoughts and having difficulty with believing in yourself.

  • Experiencing financial stress.

  • Dealing with mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

  • Exposure to drugs or drug-related paraphernalia.

Identifying your triggers is the first step when coming back from a relapse. Ideally, recognizing these patterns can help reduce the chances of it happening again in the future.

Seek Support

You’re more likely to stay sober if you have a supportive community. If you’re coming back from a relapse (or still in the middle of one), contact an accountability partner, recovery coach, or therapist. Try to schedule an in-person meeting to talk with them.

As challenging as it may seem, try not to push others away, Don’t keep your relapse a secret. Secrecy often perpetuates shame and self-loathing- it also tends to cause people to isolate.

You might be worried about hurting your loved ones. This is normal. Admitting a relapse can be a humbling and challenging conversation. Remind yourself that your loved ones want what’s best for you.

Consider the Benefits of Treatment

Seeking professional treatment is an essential step in your recovery process. Relapse can be a sign that your current treatment plan might need some adjustments. Consult a trusted medical professional about which method of care might be best for you.


Detox rids the body of all the toxins associated with drug use. It also supports users struggling with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Detox tends to last just a few days, but it may be a necessary process for you to get back on track.

Inpatient Treatment

After coming back from a relapse, you may benefit from inpatient treatment. This is usually the best course of action if you struggle with chronic relapse or need physical separation from your typical environment.

Inpatient treatment can last anywhere from 30 days to several months. You will have 24/7 supervision, monitoring, and structured clinical services throughout your stay.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment can also be beneficial for people coming back from a relapse. This level of care allows you to balance your recovery needs with other obligations, like school, family, and work.

You will learn how to manage your cravings while also living in the real world. Outpatient treatment may include various addiction treatment services, including group therapy, individual therapy, life coaching, case management, and medication management.

Be Kind To Yourself

Addiction is a chronic illness. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of people who complete addiction treatment programs relapse at least once after completion.

Therefore, relapse does not mean you have failed. It means you need to try something different. Even if you experience intense feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment, you must try to be kind to yourself. A perfect recovery doesn’t exist, and you don't need to set perfection as your goal.

Try your best to avoid letting a relapse prevent you from believing in your ability to stay sober. Try not to push others away- remind yourself that you still deserve a supportive community. You’re more likely to succeed if you believe in yourself and if you have people who encourage you.

Coming Back From a Relapse: How We Can Help

Consider thinking of relapse as a stepping stone, not as a revolving door. If you can come out of your relapse with a mindset to improve, you are moving forward. Give yourself love, patience, and grace during this vulnerable time.

At The Resurface Group, our staff understands the perils of addiction and relapse. We are here for you and your loved ones throughout this entire process. Contact us today to get the help you need.

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