Relapse is one of the more common, but also one of the most painful, things we experience when struggling with addiction. We might have spent years continuously relapsing, feeling determined but unable to stay sober for very long. For so long, we’ve felt powerless, out of control, and hopeless. Others of us will have successfully achieved sobriety to find themselves relapsing. Whether it has come about unexpectedly or is something we’ve battled for some time, relapse is always disappointing. We can then get stuck in harmful patterns and difficult emotions following relapse.

Experiencing Difficult Emotions Following Relapse

When we’ve relapsed, we might become convinced that recovery is impossible for us and that we’re incapable of sobriety. Relapse is common, natural, and understandable, given how overpowering addiction can be. With relapse can come strong feelings of disappointment, embarrassment, and regret. We feel guilty and ashamed of ourselves and have a very difficult time moving forward following relapse. Our instinct is to beat ourselves up. We can become deeply self-loathing and self-condemning.

All of these emotions can perpetuate our addictive patterns. When we feel deep regret, when we hate ourselves, we often will use our drug of choice to try to feel better. We might not reach out for support in those moments when we’re feeling most ashamed of ourselves. The weight of our emotions can be hard to bear, especially when trying to bear them alone. 

Feelings of sadness have been linked to increased substance use. Those of us struggling with addiction know this phenomenon well. When we feel sad, especially following relapse, we can feel even more compelled to use. Our addictive urges can be compounded by something as simple as our sadness. 

The support of a treatment center like Athens Area Commencement Center reminds us that we no longer have to bear any of our struggles or difficult emotions alone.

Understanding Our Emotions Following Relapse

There are ways we can learn to move forward after relapse that better serve us in our recovery. One such way is to become more aware of the emotions we’re experiencing. Let’s take our regret, for example. When we relapse, we’re flooded with powerful, overwhelming feelings of regret. Instead of being overpowered by our emotions, we can examine them and learn from them. We can ask questions of ourselves, exploring our feelings in more depth. How useful is this regret? Does feeling regretful help motivate me to get sober? Or, does regret make me feel so bad about myself that I just want to use? Has regret been fueling my relapses all along? Are my regret, guilt, and shame the catalysts of my relapses?

Understanding our emotions means we can process them in ways that support our recovery rather than endanger it. For example, when we work to understand our emotions, such as our regret, we can better connect with ourselves. Rather than burying our emotions or turning to our drug of choice to cope with the emotional overwhelm, we can healthily feel our regret and then learn from it. We can use our emotions as a catalyst for our sobriety rather than fuel for further relapse. 

Changing Our Self-Talk Following Relapse

Just as relapse can help us feel our emotions differently, it can teach us to speak to ourselves differently. Using the same example, the emotion of regret, we can examine our internal dialogue. How do I talk to myself when I’ve relapsed or when I’m in danger of relapsing? Do I speak to myself with encouraging, self-loving words? Or do I use self-deprecating language? 

As we learn to understand better our emotions following relapse, we can also change our self-talk. We can use how we talk to ourselves to empower ourselves, thereby preventing relapse. Here are some examples of self-talk that can be supportive and empowering of our recovery following relapse:

Finding Support Following Relapse

Seeking out support is one meaningful way to give ourselves more love, not less, when our instinct is to punish ourselves following relapse. Athens Area Commencement Center is an example of a treatment center that is community-based, caring and understands the emotional toll that relapse can take. When we’ve relapsed, many of us want to isolate ourselves. We’re afraid to share our stories and be forced to relive our shame. Having already judged ourselves harshly for so long, we fear being judged by others. 

Following relapse, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is give ourselves the gift of support. We might be inclined to believe we’ll never get better because of our experience with relapse. Learning to move forward following relapse means giving ourselves the help and support we need. Rather than keeping ourselves stuck in recurring patterns of self-isolating following relapse because we’re ashamed of ourselves, we can make the self-loving choice to get help.

When we’ve experienced relapse, we can feel like our lives are over. We’ve done the very thing we’ve been so afraid of, the thing that has caused us so much regret. We can learn important lessons from our experience with relapse, however. We can learn to understand ourselves and our emotions better, and to talk to ourselves in ways that are encouraging of our sobriety rather than detrimental to it. We can seek out support from treatment centers like Athens Area Commencement Center that are committed to helping us put an end to our patterns of relapse. Call AACC today at (706) 546-7355 for more information on our treatment programs. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *