Here’s What You Should Do After A Relapse

going to rehab after a relapse

Relapse is a part of many people’s journeys. If you were sober for a period of time then relapsed back into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol, your relapse doesn’t have to be the end of the road. It is normal to feel guilty, scared, and disappointed. However, a relapse doesn’t mean you are a failure. 


The most important thing is what you decide to do after your relapse. Some people may continue using for some amount of time. However, others may decide that one slip up was enough. Regardless of if your relapse lasted a couple of hours or a couple of months or years, it is crucial that you take action as soon as you are ready. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can stop the vicious cycle of addiction and jump back into your sobriety.


Change your Perspective


It can be tempting to beat yourself up over your relapse. You may feel guilty for worrying your friends and family, embarrassed to reach out of help, and even reluctant to seek help. When you are in the midst of your relapse, it can be difficult to accept your current circumstances. It can be even more difficult to believe that lasting recovery is possible. Relapse can beat you down, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It may feel as though you should just give up. However, changing your perspective about your relapse is critical. It can even hold the key to your future sobriety.


Instead of being so hard on yourself, try to look at your relapse as a learning process. Recovery isn’t a straight line – it has its ups and downs. Sometimes, the downs include brief relapses. In order to stay sober, it’s important to be aware of why you relapsed in the first place. This can help you gain self-awareness and be better prepared to get back on track and stay sober.


Reach out to your Support Group


If you relapse, it is likely that your recovery needs more support than you were previously getting. You may feel ashamed to admit to your support group that you have fallen back into old patterns, but a good support group will understand. In addition, they will more than likely do anything to help and welcome you back with open arms. 


Studies have proven the positive relationship between having a support group and staying sober.[1] On the other hand, people who isolate and don’t have sober support are more likely to relapse. Whether it is your sponsor, a group of friends, your family, or a treatment center staff, reaching out is one of the most important things you can do. After a relapse, one of the first things you should do is reach out for help.


Go Back to Treatment


Recovery can be a slow, long-term process. As a result, some people benefit from more than one rehab experience. In addition, relapse sometimes means that there is something else that needs to be addressed in a professional setting. Whether it is mental health, coping mechanisms, or unresolved trauma, addiction treatment can help shed light on underlying issues. 


You may be embarrassed or afraid to go back to treatment. However, it is only an opportunity for you to gain awareness and support your recovery. Similarly, there may be people in rehab that have never relapsed. You can help them by sharing your experience with recovery and relapse. Perhaps you can teach one of your peers something that will later mean the difference between sobriety and substance use.


When you go back to a drug or alcohol rehab after a relapse, try to think of your recovery as a skill. It’s something that takes hard work, patience, and practice. Rehab programs will give you the opportunity to work on your recovery without the distractions of everyday life. Your substance abuse counselor will examine your relapse with you and make sure you have all the tools needed to stay sober.


Spend time Reflecting on your Relapse


There are usually many factors that influence a drug or alcohol relapse. It could be an environmental trigger, underlying emotional and mental issues, or even strained relationships. In order to prevent another relapse, you should spend time reflecting on why you relapsed. Some questions you can think about include:

  • Am I spending time with and connecting with my support group?
  • Is there something bothering me that I haven’t told anyone?
  • Was I around something that made me want to use?
  • Am I attending meetings and standing by my obligations?
  • Am I feeling increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness?


While in an addiction treatment program, spend some time reflecting on your relapse. Try to determine what you could do differently next time and what areas of your recovery are lacking. In addition, you can discuss these things with your substance abuse counselor. He or she can provide you with professional insight and guidance. As a result, you will be more self-aware and have more ways to manage your triggers in the future. 


Practice Forgiveness


Most importantly, remember that many people relapse. However, sitting in these feelings won’t help you stay sober. Instead, stay sober by making the necessary changes. For example, go to more meetings, gain sober support, and practice self-care. All of these factors are influential to support long-term recovery. If you are returning from a relapse and are in need of professional addiction treatment that you can trust, contact an addiction specialist at PAX Memphis Recovery Center




Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.