Tips to Overcome Relapse


In recovery, just like in every other part of life, we sometimes fall; we relapse. Relapses are an unfortunate part of the journey, especially in the early days.

"It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” — Rocky Balboa

In recovery, just like in every other part of life, we sometimes fall; we relapse. Relapses are an
 unfortunate part of the journey, especially in the early days. The hard truth is that addiction is a beast, and it will rear its ugly head throughout our lives – many will succumb to it at one point or another.

But relapses don’t have to define us, nor do they have to defeat us. If we fall, we can get back up – we can choose to hit back and keep moving forward. There are four things that stand out as being 
particularly important to help us reset after a relapse.

1) Talk to a mental health professional. Relapses are often the result of underlying issues that we are trying to suppress or avoid. Understanding the emotional and biological reasons for our addiction is critical, and there is no substitute for talking with a licensed therapist, addiction counselor, or medical professional. They can help you understand your particular situation better, and recommend additional resources or tools – including in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation – that will boost your recovery efforts. If you don’t know who to turn to, you can find professionals in your area through Better Help, Psychology Today, or your health insurance provider’s network.

2) Get to a meeting and share. Psychologist and best-selling author Brené Brown says, “If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive.” It’s so important to be open and honest about your struggles and behaviors, and when you do so in a community of people who understand your situation you will experience the support and empathy necessary to get through the shame of relapse. One of the things that I love about our community, The Luckiest Club, is the absolute lack of judgement shown to newcomers to sobriety and those who have recently relapsed. This is true of many communities – you simply have to show up and choose to be seen.

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3) Get alcohol out of the house. While not every relapse happens at home, a surprisingly high percentage of them do. Three dangerous conditions for a relapse are weakness/cravings, temptation, and availability. If you are prone to relapsing, or concerned that you may relapse, look for the ways to reduce temptation and the availability of alcohol around you. Get it out of your home, don’t drive by familiar liquor stores, and ask anybody who spends time in your home to avoid bringing it inside with them. If you live with people who don’t respect this boundary, consider staying somewhere else for a few days as you get yourself reset.

4) Say “no” to invitations to go to places with alcohol for 30 days. When bouncing back from a relapse it’s important to place a high priority on your mental well-being. That means choosing to stay home and rest instead of going to a party, going for a walk instead of participating in happy hour, and reading a good book (or watching a movie) instead of going to dinner with friends. For a few weeks, choose yourself by keeping your surroundings safe and your support system focused on your sobriety.

If you are looking for a community to support you along your journey, please consider joining us in The Luckiest Club.

In addition to hosting more than 30 meetings per week, we also have a book club, a running club, dance parties, a 24/7 online community, and subgroups based on geographies and interests, all of which are available to help members both get sober and stay sober. We also offer a 90-day program called The Sober 90, which is designed to provide resources, support, and community for anybody in early sobriety, and those looking for additional stability in their sober journey. You can find more details, and take advantage of our free trial period, on our website.

Written by:

Eric Johnson
Eric Johnson is an adventurer, writer, and certified coach. He is also the cohost of the podcast “Inside Job”. He draws his inspiration from his background as a leader in corporate America and as a teacher and coach at one of the world’s top business schools. He also believes that Mother Nature and 90's grunge music are among the greatest sources of wisdom available.
Eric Johnson
Vice President, Member Experience & Operations

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