Are You a Loser if You Relapse While in Recovery?
It’s impossible to make it through life without making any mistakes. People are just as prone to mistake-making as they are to falling in love or experiencing disappointment – mistakes are simply a part of the human experience. Of course, the trick is that we learn from our mistakes and avoid making them again in the future. If we keep making the same mistake over and over again, we need to take responsibility at some point. Additionally, some mistakes are more significant than others. Say you forget to turn a paper in on time, or you forgot that you promised someone you would cover their shift at work. You might feel bad for a few hours, but you quickly get over it and stop beating yourself up, understanding that everyone slips up and that no one was hurt by your forgetfulness.
We All Don’t Get Sober the First Time
Say you are in a program of recovery for drug addiction or an alcohol abuse disorder, and you return to drug use or drinking after an extended period of sobriety. It is easier to beat yourself up when you make a mistake that is this significant. You might tell yourself several hurtful things, like, “You idiot, if you can’t stay sober for a whole year then what’s the point of continuing to try?” Or, “You’re worthless. You’re a major loser.” It is important to understand that you are certainly not a “loser” just because you experienced a return to old behaviors. The majority of men and women who have years and years of continuous sobriety experienced a relapse at one point or another. However, you must get back on the horse the moment you fall off.
Relapsing in Recovery is a Process
We tell ourselves all kinds of things when we make mistakes. We might tell ourselves that because we relapsed after a period of recovery, we might as well just throw in the towel and call it quits altogether. How would we break the news to our sponsor or our sober friends? How are we going to tell our families that after months of sobriety we made the careless decision to pick up a drink or a drug?
Unfortunately, there can be a lot of shame and intense feelings of guilt involved in a relapse. Many people allow these feelings of shame to keep them from returning to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (or any other 12-step program they are a part of). So how do you overcome this shame and show your face again? First of all, you must hop on the phone as quickly as possible with sober support that you trust thoroughly and that you know will never judge you or make you feel any worse than you already do.
What to Do When You’ve Relapsed?
In most cases, this person will be your sponsor. Give your sponsor a call and let them know that you slipped up, but that you quickly recognized your mistake and you are ready to get back on the wagon. You will need to get to a meeting as quickly as possible as well, where you will pick up a white chip (or key tag) and recommit to your sobriety. The process does take bravery, but keep in mind – most people in AA and NA relapsed at one point or another, and there is an immense amount of courage that goes hand-in-hand with admitting that you made a mistake.
Evoke Wellness and Overcoming Relapse
At Evoke Wellnes, we understand how difficult it can be to overcome a relapse. We also know that getting back on the wagon is not always as easy as calling up your sponsor and making a meeting. Sometimes, you might need additional support and help – and if you do, we are available to help. Simply pick up the phone and give us a call and we will help you get back on the right track.