How to Handle Feelings of Guilt and Frustration After Relapse

“Relapse is part of recovery.” This statement is what people in rehabilitation centers and AA meetings hear very often. This statement is very dangerous. Why? Most people think that since it is part of your recovery and it is something that’s inevitable, it is okay to indulge when relapse happens.

It isn’t okay, and it will never be. This will put everything you gave up, worked for, and the ones you love at higher risk — the sobriety you’re currently experiencing, the life with your loved ones that you’re trying so hard to rebuild, and the promise of future that your life may have after the addiction.

That is why we personally think that the best way of giving hope for people struggling for sobriety is “Looking for the best way to deal with the inevitable relapse is part of your recovery.”

It’s real, although the distinction is little. It helps deal with relapse, not as an unavoidable phase of healing, but as a potential barrier which may be surpassed by someone who’s dedicated to pursuing their recovery.

Why does relapse happen when recovering from an addiction?

Many folks in recovery from a disorder that abuses substances such as alcoholism and drug addiction didn’t start that process completely willingly — often, they had been persuaded by family and friends, ruled by the Court, or reached their own version of “rock bottom.”

Many times, alcoholics and addicts have other persistent mental or emotional disorders like PTSD, anxiety, or depression. The person doesn’t automatically get rid of the problems brought by the said disorders when he stops taking drugs or drinking alcohol.

When both factors — first reluctance and progressive disorders — unite during the early stages of healing, they can make someone who just enjoyed being sober be dangerously vulnerable to some relapse, particularly when their surroundings aren’t conducive to pursue their current state of being sober.

What other things can contribute to the occurrence of relapse?

The addict/alcoholic may feel overwhelmed and at a loss when trying several methods to live a normal life, socialize with other people, and to feel okay with the stress that they need to deal in their daily life when they just reached the state of being sober.

Until those lessons were learned and always put in mind, the person can opt to develop new habits that should be supported by a strong foundation. When it’s backed up by a weak foundation, different circumstances that may prompt a relapse. These may include:

Wrong people – it’s most of the time impossible to remain sober if those who surround you are still drug addicts and drinking excessively. Connecting with your old buddies in drug-use and drinking who are still actively engaging in these vices may be your stepping stone to joining them again.

Unproductive places – Addiction is a disorder caused by poor habits. When you still continue going to the places that used to tolerate your vices that led to your addiction, you may just go back to your old ways.

Avoid revisiting the pub you used to drink till morning, the house of your previous supplier, and places where you and your previous drug and drink mates meet. Doing this will eliminate one of the risks of taking these substances again.

Old ways – What does this really mean? This is your way of thinking or your mindset and the way you cope up. It was your own unhealthy method of doing tasks which help your illness progress.

Addiction is a disorder stubbornness, denial, and ego as well. When you repeat your old ways like your mindset, reactions to stressors, and your behaviours in the past, then don’t expect that you’ll get better because you’re only preparing yourself to get disappointed.

Striving to do more than what you can – “Keep It Simple Stupid” is just another saying that most people in the rehabilitation center repeatedly follows.

What it implies is that an individual should concentrate more on activities, actions, and institutions that encourage you to heal. Don’t give in to the temptations that attempt and resolve every mistake and a broken relationship in the past while you’re struggling for sobriety.

Getting impatient – Most of the time, an individual who’s in his early stage of healing may become frustrated when they are not regaining the normal lifestyle that they had before they became an addict as fast as they believe that they should. What they fail to understand is that their disease developed slowly so they should also expect to recover slowly.

Losing faith – Often times, the first signs of sobriety are not evident in the early stage. Others might give in and then attempt to take shortcuts because they do not know why a specific activity or measure is vital, but don’t follow their steps.

Recovery may be a long process, and occasionally, it may require to set your ego aside but just put your trust in the procedure which has worked for many folks in a similar circumstance.

Disregarding and not attending meetings – When an individual has just become sober, they might begin to feel as though they got the situation under control.

The simple fact of the matter is, the 12 meeting sessions apart from the provides you with a support group that totally understands what you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing, which is vital in your recovery journey to make sure that you’re not getting overwhelmed nor tempted to go back to your ways.

Absence of a solid support system – As much as you have to avoid those who may lure you into drugging or drinking again, you should also have optimistic, sober men and women who put your best interests and recovery first.

These are individuals who you can open yourself up to whenever things are becoming too overwhelming for you, and who may put you back on the right track when you get tempted to drift away.

The feeling of being depressed – A lot of men and women in the early stages of their healing experience may go through the symptoms of depression since their brain attempts to go back to its right track.

They may feel lonely, like as if they’re mourning for a lost loved one. That may be true in a way since the connection they have with their favourite drug was already broken.

Nevertheless, the difficulties you’re experiencing in your life right now does not compare to the new and sober life that awaits you after your recovery. Realizing that it is a kind of already progress in itself so might as well exert efforts in your journey to sobriety.

When a relapse happens, does that mean that a person did not really recover from addiction?

No, definitely not. Addiction is like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes — it’s persistent. It comes back, especially if the person suffering from this does not have enough self-control to abstain from using the substance in the early stages of sobriety.

As we mentioned above, recovery takes a lot of time, and it is a process of changing your old lifestyle into new to make addiction controllable. Here are some of the rates of relapse in different conditions:

  • 40 to 60 percent of those who abuse different substances may experience a relapse at some point in their lives.
  • 30 to 60 percent of people who have Type I Diabetes are not following the meal and exercise plan prescribed by their doctors.
  • 50 to 70 percent of those who have asthma disregard their treatment pills and does not take them timely.
  • 50 to 70 percent of those who have high blood pressure does not comply with the requirements set by their healthcare professionals.

No matter how low or high the rate of their non-compliance to their doctor’s prescribed treatment, a person who has diabetes who eats a slice of cake does not translate to being a disappointment who needs to stop trying to get well.

What should you do when relapse occurs?

When you are recovering, and your risk of relapse is definitely high, you should do one thing to keep enjoying your sobriety — Concentrate on your program and do not give in to temptation.

You will not act like you didn’t suffer from the addiction. What you should do is to continue moving forward. For the meantime, do these tips to keep your relapse at bay:

  • Be composed. Having relapse does not necessarily mean that you’re full recovery is already impossible to attain.
  • Do not overthink and try to get out of that situation.
  • Inform your family and those who are involved in your journey.
  • Avoid being alone. As much as possible, keep your support system around you during these times.
  • Attend meetings and group therapies. Be present to as many meetings as you can ever attend. Most of the time, what they say in there may change your perception.
  • Read magazines or newspapers about recovery.
  • Do not fall into the mistake of wallowing in self-pity, guilt, and shame.
  • Do not let yourself off the hook. When you’re always cleaned up and fresh, it affects your overall mood.
  • Eat healthy kinds of food. Your hunger can sometimes be mistakable to substance cravings.

When you’re planning for the long term, one of your goals should be redirection in your recovery program. Do not hesitate to bring up any concern or problem that you experience to your counsellors and therapists. They have dealt with relapses before, and we’re pretty sure they know what to do in yours.

If your program for sobriety has already ended and you are not confident enough to go out and live normally again, you can ask your sponsors and your support system if there are other ways for you to re-enrolled in another course or program. It is important that you get to know what they say about it first.

How do you start over and live a new life after the relapse?

When all you see are problems and difficulties while you’re recovering, it may be pretty hard to hope for a new and clean life after the relapse. Although addiction is a persistent disorder which may involve relapses, being an addict for drugs again is a huge disappointment.

However, the good news is after one relapse; you don’t have to live in the dark phase of your life as an addict. You can bounce back!

The ultimate question when planning to bounce bank is how? How do you fight back and start in a clean state after stopping your alcohol and drug intake when the people around you have something to say, and you feel extreme guilt and shame? Read on to learn more on how to surpass different challenges after the relapse.

Overcoming Guilt and Shame

When you’re working in your recovery, and you went through a relapse, the life after that may be uncomfortable because of the feeling of being a failure. This is especially true considering the effort and amount of time that you put in your recovery.

Being guilty and shameful is pretty much common and understandable when you just went through a relapse. However, you don’t have to let them overpower you. Giving them power is like putting all your hard work to the trash as they can impact your choices and behaviour in the future greatly.

Put in mind that if you let guilt, shame, and the overwhelming sense of being a failure to govern your life, you are most likely to increase the chance of another relapse to happen.

Putting that in mind, here are some of the most practical tips in disregarding guilt and shame:

  1. Don’t point fingers. Although it might be very tempting to put the blame on yourself or to another person, don’t do it. Owning your mistakes doesn’t require wallowing in self-pity and lowering your self-esteem and more importantly doesn’t mean that you need to look for someone whom you can just easily blame. When you’re done going through a relapse, take responsibility for your actions but don’t pass the blame on someone and most importantly on yourself.
  2. Forgive yourself and other people. All of us commit mistakes. Aside from taking responsibility for your actions as a way of starting a new life after the relapse, you can also sincerely let yourself and those who you think triggered your relapse. With that in mind, a good thing to do is write a letter addressed to yourself as a way of reminding yourself how far you have moved from the nasty experience and encourage it to keep exerting efforts on your recovery. Forgiving yourself may be hard when you’re always alone, that’s why you have to attend group therapies as you can learn this from there.
  3. Learn to let go of negativity. Guilt and shame may manifest right after the relapse that can trigger another relapse when not processed and let go the right way. It is better when you shove these negative thoughts and feelings right away. Although letting go is easier said than done, you may need to exert effort in really throwing them away by using either one or both of these methods:

– Talk to your counsellor about it to help process the feelings (preferably one who specializes in this part of curing addiction).

– Spend at least 10 minutes meditating and visualizing how you tend to let go of these things.

  1. As much as possible, eliminate the” all-or-nothing” mindset. Although thinking that you are now back to where you started in recovery may be tempting, don’t give in. You are most prone to this when you think that starting over again is a rock-bottom place with nowhere to go but up. Actually, one relapse may just be a pair of steps back towards the overall course of recovery. When you catch yourself thinking about “all-or-nothing,” reconstruct your thoughts and don’t dwell in this idea. Be more positive and think about things that you want to accomplish when you fully recover from addiction.

Tips on How to Celebrate Your Sobriety

Little milestones look like they are not worthy of celebration. But achievement such as one month of being sober is already a massive accomplishment, and there is no reason to disregard it. Fighting addiction is a continuing struggle, and a significant portion of this is currently admitting that it is difficult.

For recovering addicts, it is extremely significant to discover new techniques to celebrate. Although a celebration without alcohol may not feel as meaningful initially, however, by honouring each and every important milestone, you gradually train yourself that you are able to celebrate sober. Avoiding them can open the way back to relapse.

Celebrating abstinence from alcohol is a huge part of the substance abuse healing and it enables you and your loved ones to discuss their joy on your achievement. So, if you are about to hit a milestone do not hesitate about whether you ought to have a party.

Sadly, a lot if not most parties often involve alcohol, thus requiring a little creativity in planning a sobriety celebration.  But on the other hand, there is no definite rule on how to celebrate these milestones, so it can be whatever you desire. If you are puzzled and uncertain on what to do, look over at these strategies for celebrating sobriety.

Think sobriety day as your birthday.

Choosing to remember and celebrate sobriety milestones is nothing new. Recovering addicts have been observing their sobriety milestones for years, with a few of the earliest references of a private sobriety memento which dates back into the mid-1940s and done by Clarence H. Snyder. Though it wasn’t a formal party, the memento was a reminder of their progress and development he experienced in healing.

Sobriety birthday can also be referred to as a sobriety anniversary, sobriety milestone, or recovery anniversary. It functions as a reminder of the improvement you have made. It may be the last day that you drank alcohol or it can be the day after your last use.

Or if you want, it may be the date which you entered an alcohol rehabilitation facility. It is only you who can decide what date will function as your sobriety birthday; the important thing is it bears a significant meaning to you.

As you know, relapse is part of healing, and it doesn’t imply that you fail. Should you choose to celebrate more than one sobriety birthday following relapse, it is up to you. Some people, celebrating more than one sobriety birthday will act as a reminder that healing and recovery is a constant and a lifetime process that is worth fighting for. Remember you are celebrating the birthday of the sober self.

Why celebrating your sobriety is important?

If you have never considered Celebrating sobriety anniversary or birthday, here are a couple of reasons why you should consider having one. A sobriety birthday will remind you to be humble. There are a lot of things that people have done that they were not proud of and you are not an exemption since nobody is perfect.

Whether you have been sober for a month or a year, you must remember that you did not get where you are on your own. A majority had a bunch of people supporting and providing counsel and encouragement on the way.

Your sobriety birthday should be a reminder that your success is not a manifestation of how great you are but rather a reflection of all the support and care that was poured unto you by those people who truly love and care for you.

Celebrating a sobriety birthday provides the chance for you to thank your coaches and friends. Your sobriety birthday is the perfect time if you haven’t thanked your coach or peers for their support.

Whether you merely say “thank you,” compose a letter or treat them out to dinner, it is important to acknowledge those who have helped you succeed in sobriety and that continue to do so every day. It would be unthinkable to celebrate your victories without celebrating with your mentors and peers since you would not be where you are without them.

It also reminds you of what it was like before and exactly what it looks like today. Looking back on those days when you were addicted helps you appreciate how far you have come. It is a reminder that you have made some remarkable progress emotionally, physically and, spiritually though healing was a slow and long process which needs persistent efforts. Looking back at these times will also remind you that everything is possible; that is it still possible to change even in the events that you think that there is no coming back.

A sobriety birthday invites us to reflect. Birthdays are an opportunity to reflect how you have grown and matured as a person, how your life has improved, the reasons why you continue to stay sober, and the aspirations you have for yourself.

Your sobriety anniversary or birthday is a good excuse to explore and discuss these things with your very best friend, your loved ones, your support team or your advisor. In doing this you might become a source of encouragement or a role model to somebody who is currently trying hard to keep their sobriety.

New you, new tradition.

Establishing a tradition may involve friends and family members, also it may be something that you take part in on your own; it may also be as plain or intricate as you enjoy. Pick something which is significant to you personally such as hiking in the woods or coordinating an event where family and friends will attend over the years. Creating tradition removes the strain of arranging a repeat party and gives you additional motivation to reach your subsequent milestones.

A new tradition may be having a private dinner. If you do not yet feel you are ready to have a huge get-together, go and have dinner with your loved ones or closest friends. Celebrations do not have to be flashy or large to have a true effect on your recovery. The key part is marking your own accomplishments. Even a month of being sober is worthy of celebration.

Spending time with family members, friends, or people close to you is among the simplest ways to celebrate would be to bring together people you know personally or have encouraged you. It’s possible to plan something as straightforward as a movie night or even a BBQ, or go all out and sponsor a pleasure, alcohol-free theme celebration. This occasion is a simple way to celebrate your recovery and deliver a message of thanks to people you value.

Celebrate by returning the favour to others.

In case the concept of a party that focuses on you makes you uneasy, you may give back to other people by volunteering in your town. Seeing the regional food bank, donating to a charity, or even engaging in a neighbourhood clean-up drive is a positive and rewarding way to spend time, and give the chance to feel honoured while serving as a reminder to provide support and aid to people around you.

Why not consider taking out for dinner one of your friends more so if they are also struggling with substance misuse problems of their own. Or treat the people who decided to stick with you through your journey to recovery.

You may also check other ways of giving back like running at a charity 5K or volunteering that day. There is no reason for you to keep that good feeling about yourself; why not spread it around you.

You may want to participate in recovery programs.

Participate by sharing the moment with individuals who can relate to your experiences. There are some recovery organizations that conduct a monthly or yearly sobriety celebration for its members. They might also have events, like meetings which are a good opportunity to listen from guest speakers. Becoming a member of an organization or attending these programs will not only function as a celebration but may help you maintain your sobriety as well by creating a network of support groups.

Celebrate sobriety one way or another. Regardless of how you wind up observing soberness, see to it that you do. Indulge yourself of something nice, surround yourself with family, create new traditions, and keep in mind why you decided to become sober. Then be sure to remind yourself that you can reach another milestone. It might be difficult, but you are going to get there, and also to celebrate sobriety yet again.

Treating yourself is most likely the simplest and easiest way to celebrate the day of your sobriety. Enroll at a dancing course, go on holiday, or simply take advantage of the chance to do something which you have been putting off for a long time. Now is the best time to enhance yourself and still find satisfaction. Reward yourself — you have made it!

Do not celebrate alone.

A significant portion of celebrating sobriety would be to change your reward practice. Though, this may also make parties quite hard for the recovering addict, and possibly cause relapses. So when you are planning to celebrate, be sure that you do it together with family members and friends, not just by yourself.

Please bear in mind that regardless of how it feels, you are not by yourself in your struggle with addiction. That means you should not need to celebrate on your own. Take pride in your accomplishments, and discuss them with somebody special.

Celebrate sobriety alcohol-free.

As the saying goes, in case you sit at a barbershop for too long, you will ultimately get a haircut. Even if you plan for an alcohol-free party, do not go celebrate somewhere that gives focus on alcohol. That does not only mean pubs — you may be amazed at a number of the areas that place a substantial emphasis on drinking.

If you are considering on observing soberness someplace you have not been before, be sure to check it out ahead to be certain it is suitable for your own gathering. Bowling could be a fantastic way to celebrate your milestone, but not when everybody around you is high or drunk. There are people who believe smoking marijuana before bowling may be enjoyable, but it is not. So stay clear from these surroundings.

Celebrate at your favourite theme park.

A lot of theme parks do not allow alcohol in any respect, and those which do need it to remain in very particular areas. And although theme parks can generally target children, there are lots of exciting things for adults also. Think about celebrating your soberness at locations that are considered among the top ten entertainment parks. There are also lots of winter sports like tobogganing, snowshoeing, and skiing. The point is that you need to feel awesome!

Not a fan of a theme park? Then pump up your adrenaline at a laser tag. There are some people where a theme park may be a little too much or overwhelming. If you wish to have the same fun as that in a theme park minus the hassle, look for laser tag areas near you.

Check out for themed restaurants as they may be an excellent option, particularly if they target children so most likely, they do not serve alcohol. Be aware, however, as a lot of these businesses that will cater to adults will have a deep emphasis on alcohol. Ensure to check out the area before you plan your session.

You may also consider having a picnic in the park. Parks are a terrific place to celebrate your milestone since most parks do not allow alcohol which means you don’t need to worry about being enticed. If you are fortunate to celebrate your sobriety during the good times of the year, then take it as a great excuse to go for a picnic.

If you are thinking about inviting plenty of people, you may also wish to have a potluck, then plan out the picnic beforehand. Remember that your invited guests will need to give ample time for your plan and they will need to think about what they are going to bring. And you will have to book several picnic benches in advance.

If you are a fan of sports, then why not enjoy a game?

As a sports enthusiast, you might want to catch some tickets. If previously, you used to drink a lot while watching sports, then this is a fantastic method to retake what you adore. Even though a lot of professional sporting areas permit the selling of alcohol but most of the college events do not.

So if you are concerned the temptation may be too much, think about visiting a school baseball game. You will have a lot of fun in a college basketball game, without needing to think of the booze.

Celebrate all day long.

Even if you have plans on how to celebrate, it does not need to be restricted to that planned time period. Go and have toast for breakfast as well as choose to have your lazy day. Think about your milestone much like a holiday. It ought to be treated as a holiday because it is and you earned it. The kind of hard work that you’ve exhibited deserves a bit more than the hour or two of pleasure.

Do not count calories, so eat whatever you desire. When celebrating your soberness, it is not the time to count calories. Much like as a lot of people throw away their diet plan for Christmas or Thanksgiving, you must not be stressing about exactly how many calories have been in your dessert course.

Think of it as your benefit for your hard endeavour, so eat as you please this day. If you go outside, be sure to purchase something sinfully sweet. There is no reason anyone should need to celebrate with no sweets.

Why do you need to be celebrating your sobriety anniversary or birthday? Marriages, birthdays, anniversaries, pregnancies are just some examples of life events that a lot of people celebrate frequently. All of these life events have something in common; they represent personal advancement and growth, which can be something to be appreciative of.

If you are currently under an alcohol rehabilitation system or transitional housing program, then your sobriety anniversary or birthday ought to be included in one of the annual life events that you should observe. This date conveys meaning and goal, and it is important to understand that as you continue with your life after recovery.

Trying to maintain sobriety outside of therapy can pose a great challenge. Transitioning back to the daily patterns and routines, most recovered addicts face a lot of temptations they don’t need to address with for a substantial amount of time during treatment.

Nevertheless, it is important to stay positive and recognize the strength and resiliency a person has demonstrated by every sobriety milestone. Whether this sobriety is measured in years, months, weeks, or even just days, there are lots of ways to acknowledge the accomplishments of an individual trying to stay sober.