With shelter-in-place orders and rules that call for social distancing, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of contentedness in our lives. The “new normal” that most of us are living can be stressful and exhausting. It might stir up thoughts that begin to rationalize having a drink — or maybe you’ve had that drink already and are feeling a lot of guilt and shame as a result. Just know that relapse does not mean that you have succumbed to your addiction.
Finding the Source
One of the first things to figure out after relapse is where the source of the onset began. Relapse typically occurs over a period of time after a series of stressors trigger your need for a drink. While it may seem easy to find the source given the current situation, you need to look beneath the surface. What events within this current situation led you to this result?
Certainly, the current situation has changed the way you approach your recovery and might be the catalyst for creating these triggers. However, taking a closer look at your actions after the initial stress of this situation may help shed some light. Take inventory of the events and the role you played in them over the past couple of months. For example, do you watch the news? Does it make you feel anxious or stressed? Perhaps even afraid?
You may also find yourself craving certain foods at certain times of the day. What do you think is contributing to these cravings? Are you eating because you’re hungry, or is it because of boredom? Finally, if you have lost the ambition to participate in activities you used to find fun or relaxed — again, ask yourself why. Bad habits often become bad routines.
You might ignore these slight changes until stronger emotions and triggers present themselves. Try to be more aware of what and when you do something that negatively affects your behavior. Then ask yourself, what can I do to correct it?
Don’t Go It Alone
Recovering from a relapse should never be experienced alone. Talking with a professional could help you discover some of the places where you are creating bad habits and leading to negative thoughts. A therapist can help you better understand these events and why they made it easier for you to justify using drugs or drinking alcohol. Finally, help from a professional could teach you some new coping mechanisms to navigate through the difficult emotions that led to your relapse.
Create a Plan
Since recovery is a lifelong goal, it is often said that recovery is about redesign and reinvention. This pandemic is unlike anything the world has faced in your lifetime. Finding ways to cope can be difficult — perhaps you have been referencing a schedule that no longer supports your goals. As always, you want to craft a plan that puts your recovery first. This plan should be made to accommodate your needs, not to create stress over having to accomplish everything in a day.
For example, instead of exercising every day, make a commitment to exercise three days a week and then meditate or write on the days that you don’t exercise. You can create meal plans and set aside blocks of time to read or watch movies. Implement some variety to get you moving around your house or apartment or room so you don’t feel so stagnant.
Always remember to cut yourself some slack. It’s okay if you do not accomplish the kinds of activities you did prior to the pandemic. This is a unique way to live — try to create a daily schedule that will keep you motivated and busy.
Never Feel Shame
Remember, your recovery isn’t a statistic. Recovery should also never be graded as pass/fail. Much like life, your recovery and your sobriety path are your own. Nobody can be perfect all the time. Reserve judgment of yourself and don’t worry about how others view you — feelings like shame and guilt can be counterproductive to recovering from a relapse.
You need to remember that you are not the same person you were in the height of your addiction. You have prepared yourself for these challenges. This is your opportunity to use what you know to serve your recovery.
While the power of forgiveness can be a long process to learn, it is a necessary one. Dwelling on the past offers no help for the future. What matters are the choices you make today. Recognize that having a drink was a mistake, forgive yourself, and let go. Remember, while there are many things outside of your control, you are in total control of yourself.
Suffering a relapse can affect your mental well-being and lead to more negative thoughts and behaviors. If you are finding it difficult to recover from a relapse, we can help. True Recovery offers a variety of alternative treatments that are designed to meet your individual needs. To learn more, call us today at (866)-399-6528.