The threat of relapse constantly hangs over the heads of those in recovery from addiction. It is a simple fact that this is always going to be an issue. Without constant vigilance, those in recovery could face relapse in early recovery or even years down the line.

Many people think that relapse begins when a person starts drinking or taking drugs again. In fact, it begins as soon as the individual starts thinking that it would be okay if he or she had a drink or had drugs just ‘occasionally’.

It is important to remember that while relapse is by no means inevitable, for some people it is a crucial part of their recovery journey. Just because one suffers a slip-up or a full-blown return to drinking does not mean that he or she cannot rectify the situation.

Get Help Immediately

If you are somebody in this position, it is essential that you take action as soon as you return to drinking or drug-taking; even if it is only a small slip-up. It is vital that you contact a sponsor, doctor, counsellor or addiction helpline as soon as you can. If you want to get back on the right track again, then this is the most important thing you can do. Do not delay as doing so could see you right back where you started again. If you cannot get in touch with anyone by phone or email, get yourself to the nearest meeting.

Start a New Detox

No matter how much alcohol or drugs you have had, you will need to detox again until the substance is out of your system. If you suffered from withdrawal symptoms during your first detox, the chances of you experiencing them again are quite high. In truth, you may find that the symptoms are actually more severe this time, so it may be necessary for you to detox in a medically supervised facility.

Consider Your Long-Term Plan

You may be feeling disheartened about the fact that you have had a slip-up, especially if you were doing really well beforehand. Try not to let it get you down too much and start planning for the future. Get in touch with your counsellor to see what the best way forward is regarding your long-term care and maintenance.

You may need to consider an outpatient programme that will help to reinforce what you have previously learned in rehab. You may find that you are even more motivated to stay sober now that you have had a reminder of what it is like to be under the influence of chemical substances.

Be Honest

It is time for you to take a long hard look at how you have been handling your sobriety lately. Some recovering addicts become complacent with their recovery and start attending meetings every so often instead of sticking to a regular timetable. It is a good idea to keep to a plan and a routine while in recovery. Even if you cut down on the number of meetings you attend as you get further along in your recovery, you should still attend with some sort of regularity – so instead of attending a meeting every one or two weeks, you could make a point of attending every one or two months.

Think about other things you may have become careless about – are you still in contact with your sponsor? Have you stopped reading fellowship material? You need to remember that your sobriety is something that must be maintained for the rest of your life. Addiction is an illness that can be treated and managed but never cured. If you remember this, you will find it easier to stay on the straight and narrow going forward.