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What to do in the event of a relapse?
Knowing what to do in the event of a relapse, by far, is the most essential part of any relapse prevention plan. When a drug or alcohol relapse occurs, it is important not to "throw out the baby with the bathwater" by letting guilt and shame paralyze you into inaction because you have slipped up. Fortunately, the pain that is involved with a drug or alcohol relapse can also create an invaluable learning experience. The most important thing that a former drug rehab patient can do is to jump right back in to their addiction recovery process with both feet, so that they can emerge from this potentially disastrous experience, by being even stronger.
Knowing what to do in the event of a drug or alcohol relapse may appear to be a no brainer, and some of the steps that should be applied will follow simple logic, such as to immediately stop using drugs or alcohol, and to reach out for the assistance of a person in your support network; but the most vital steps that a former addict must take after a drug or alcohol relapse are appear to be a bit more complex, and are explained in detail below:
Respond immediately to the drug or alcohol relapse -In relation to what to do in the event of a relapse, the most important thing is that the former addict and their loved ones react to this episode with a sense of urgency. An individual that is recovering from addiction cannot wait several days or weeks to face the facts about their drug or alcohol relapse; instead, they must confront the situation immediately, not as an indictment, but as a reality. Although it will not be easy for them to face what has happened, and a former addict may have a tendency to stay in a place where they are deeply ashamed, it is extremely important that they do not spend a whole lot of time sitting around and thinking about their drug or alcohol relapse, as this would do nothing but make the situation much worse.
In terms of what to do in the event of a drug or alcohol relapse, it is important for the former addict not to revert back to addictive thinking, such as "Okay, I blew it, and everything is downhill from here, and there is nothing that I can do about that." Actually, there are several things that are wrong with this type of thinking, first and foremost, it is not true; the truth is, there are many positive steps that a person in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction can take to continue to begin to move forward in the substance abuse recovery process. Directly after a drug or alcohol relapse, it is not as important to have all of the answers; what is imperative instead, is that the former addict has the desire to move past the slip-up, so that they can continue to move forward in the substance abuse recovery process.
Deal with the associated emotions-In relation to what to do in the event of a relapse, it is important to recognize that the individual in recovery for addiction will often begin to experience many powerful negative emotions as a direct result of their misstep. Although a drug or alcohol relapse can cause the former addict to experience a host of negative emotions, such as shame and guilt, depression is by far, the most common emotional state that accompanies a drug or alcohol relapse; unfortunately, not dealing with the crushing depression that follows such a relapse episode can often be the thing that derails a drug or alcohol addiction recovery program. It is imperative that a former addict deals with the series of negative emotions that so commonly accompany a drug or alcohol relapse, by speaking to a treatment professional, as this person will be able to help to put things in the proper perspective; additionally, a recovery specialist can help a former addict to figure out what particular factors caused the episode to occur in the first place.
Attending additional support meetings can also be beneficial, in terms of working through feelings of deep depression; but, a recovering addict should be prepared to continue to deal with their depression for a period of time, as the accompanying symptoms of a drug or alcohol relapse do not just magically disappear overnight. Another constructive way for a former addict who has experienced a drug or alcohol relapse to be able to get a handle on the negative emotions that accompany the incident, is to talk about these issues with others who have been in the same situation.
Develop a plan to make the changes that are necessary to create a stronger relapse prevention plan moving forward-In terms of what to do in the event of a relapse, a person in recovery who has experienced a drug or alcohol relapse, will often have to make some important changes in their relapse prevention plan. Although it may be extremely painful to look at, a former addict will have to consider that they may have become overconfident in their ability to be able to resist drug or alcohol urges and cravings. A former addict that relapses may have to admit that they succumbed to "magical thinking," by entertaining delusions that helped to justify their relapse behavior in their minds. In relation to a substance abuse relapse, magical thinking will often consist of the individual in recovery telling themselves that indulging in their drug or alcohol addiction in some way would not be problematic; additionally, even if the former addict did not entertain such delusions, they may have let their guard down in a social situation, or not effectively purged their surroundings of potential drug or alcohol triggers. Whatever the former addict was doing in terms of a drug or alcohol relapse prevention plan, a drug or alcohol relapse will make it painfully obvious that some major changes might be in order. These changes should include the person in recovery for addiction taking a new look at their overall relapse prevention game plan.
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