Handling Relapses - 5 Tips

Handing Relapses - 5 Tips

You've probably thought about at least one of these before:
  • "What happens if I relapse?"
  • "What do I do after I relapsed?"
  • "How can I avoid relapsing in the future?"
This is something I see so often in the community. I'll be blunt: it happens to almost everyone. Beginners often relapse in the first week. Even people who've been sober for years relapse. Instead of giving up, this post is about carrying on and making the best out of it.
Let's get started then. When someone relapses, the typical reactions usually are:
  • It doesn't count, it was only one night
  • I hate myself. How could I do this?
  • Sobriety isn't for me; using is so much easier.
  • Everyone is going to be disappointed in me

Those are natural thoughts that your mind goes to, but they are not healthy at all. None of them are going to keep you sober. Realise that you are human. Mistakes are in your nature and that most people relapse. Don't use this as an excuse to relapse, though.

#1 -  Accept it

As corny as this sounds, the first step is to accept it. Yes, it did count. Being sober isn't something you can do halfway. Even a single drink is considered a relapse. Most addicts will tell you that one is never one. Accepting it has a ton of advantages. For starters, it keeps you honest. As soon as you start trying to cover it up with "it didn't count", you open a door for yourself to use again in the future.

#2 - Identify your trigger(s)

Do you want to prevent a relapse in the future? This is pretty much it. Find out what caused the relapse and avoid that situation in the future. Did you cave and go out to a bar with friends? Were you bored? Did you have half a bottle in the fridge that you never threw out? You will probably have more than one.

#3 - Write it down!

Make a note in a calendar, diary, app, whatever. As long as you can find it and look at it. Write down what happened, how you felt before you used and how you felt after you used. This is important. Future you will be able to see the differences and hopefully not give into temptation.

#4 - Talk to someone

This is a bit of a touchy one.  A lot of people are ashamed and they don't want to speak to anyone or let them know what happened. You should, though. Get it off your shoulders. You'll feel better and you'll be more emotionally equipped for the job ahead. Ideally you should speak to your sponsor if you have one. You could also talk to a family member or a close friend. If none of these options are available to you, consider joining an online discussion board. You can choose to stay anonymous here.

#5 Don't give up

This goes without saying, and it seems obvious, but a lot of people struggle with this. They want to give up after the first or second relapse. Just think about it: If a relapse felt that terrible, what would it feel like to live like that for the rest of you life? The best way to stay in the dirt is to not get up after you've been knocked down.


Relapses happen. It's part of most journeys to recovery. Instead of letting it end yours, make it help yours and grow stronger from it. Here's a shirt just for that! Growing Stronger Everyday Men's T-Shirt 

Stay sober!


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  • Thank u for this blog. It’s helping me learn to build my tools and change my perspective. I hope you’ll continue blogging soon!

    • Bean
  • I’ve been struggling with wanting to relapse. Well wanting, but NOT wanting…if that makes any sense. When I came across your blog and read your 5 tips on how to handle relapse, it really helped me. It gave me something to carry with me for my next thought, and it took me out of my moment of “wanting to” and made me WANT to do something for my recovery. Thanks to your blog I’m writing things down when I feel overwhelmed. It helped me remember my tools and put them into action. Thank you for helping me unfreeze and move into actions!

    • Ashley