Making it through treatment is a significant accomplishment. You have managed to overcome your addiction and learn about yourself and your disorder. Additionally, you have developed coping mechanisms such as self-care, support groups, and therapies to continue evolving in your recovery. Each new day of sober living brings you more confidence and awareness of yourself and your capabilities. As more time passes, this confidence continues to grow; you apply what you know when times become challenging, and you overcome these challenges to learn something new about yourself. However, after months or years spent sober, you may encounter a challenge that you feel you cannot overcome, leading to a relapse.

Relapse can be the most frustrating experience that leaves you feeling humiliated, guilty, and even ashamed. It can also create thoughts of defeat and wanting to give up altogether. However, you must always remind yourself that you can only diminish the urges presented by substance use disorder; you cannot completely rid yourself of them. 

Understand that you are not alone. Research shows that up to 60% of people will experience relapse after treatment. As frustrating as your relapse may be, there are many ways to use it as a lesson to motivate you and make your recovery stronger than before. These are ways to prepare to move forward in healing without further pursuing destructive thoughts and behaviors.

Accept Your Feelings

Relapsing can create confusion and doubt by exaggerated feelings of guilt, shame, and humiliation. You may feel as though you have let yourself and everybody else down. Before succumbing to focusing on the negative aspects of relapse, take a moment to assess the situation and brace yourself to experience these emotions. Understand why these feelings are so powerful and look for the positives. Is it because you spent so much time sober? Are you disappointed because you let yourself down?

Remember, a relapse does not have any connection to your days spent sober. You do not lose the progress you made by using substances again. Work on viewing relapse as another challenge to overcome. Let it remind you how important and healthy you felt when sober, and let this motivate you. The rules to your recovery need to transform to evolve. You might take this as an opportunity to reassess your needs, goals, and activities to grow and learn from this experience.

Get Support

After a relapse, you should always contact your counselor, therapist, or friends from your support system to let them know. While these might lead to difficult conversations, they will also be humbling. The idea is to remain honest and in contact to let your supporters know what you are experiencing. When you are forthcoming and proactive in finding help to get through this relapse, others are more motivated to help you. Trying to manage a relapse alone can lead to you making decisions not conducive to your recovery. Additionally, you should consider reaching out to loved ones — support from loved ones is crucial to maintaining longevity in your recovery.

Return to Treatment

Returning to treatment might seem like a step backward. However, you must understand that recovery isn’t linear. Everybody makes mistakes, and nobody is above needing help from a treatment center at specific points in their life. Treatment is still an option, whether five months or five years after your initial treatment stay. 

Returning to treatment may be based on your individual needs and the severity of your relapse. If you encounter a slip-up in recovery, where you only use once, it may be easy to get right back on the road to recovery. If your relapse has turned into more than just one slip, you’ll want to reach out to a treatment center immediately. Remember, you should not feel ashamed or like treatment is not an option. Some treatment centers also offer aftercare and counseling after initial treatment. 

Stay Committed

While relapse can happen, you will want to avoid getting caught up in the “revolving door syndrome” of rehab. This occurs when you continue to relapse and return to treatment over and over. When you get caught up in this cycle, it might be because you are no longer consistent or committed to your recovery. Once this occurs, the temptation of using substances again may be too much to resist. You will need to seek professional help to focus on changing your behavioral and thinking patterns. Using therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy will allow you to understand your thinking pattern and build your self-confidence and self-worth.


Relapse in recovery is not the end of your healing. Instead, it is an opportunity for growth. When you can accept that relapse is not the end of your journey, you can find ways to let these slips motivate you to strengthen further how you manage your recovery. Focusing on the first day of sobriety after a relapse can shift your perspective on the situation. If you find it difficult to move on after a relapse, it is time to seek help. True Recovery understands that recovery is a life-long process and that relapse may be part of that process. We take the time to get to know each of our patients individually to find the treatment to best suit their needs. We also pride ourselves on being a safe community where you will always feel comfortable staying in contact and returning when you need help. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528