Addiction to a substance or behavior is complex affecting the addictive person and everyone around them. We help every individual at their unique state of development, motivation, and readiness for treatment and recovery
IF YOU HAVE A LAPSE OR RELAPSE
Having a lapse is not the end of the world. A lapse is a sign that something needs to be dealt with in recovery or in life. It is like the “canary in the coal mine,” an alarm telling you that there is an issue or challenge to be faced. It is important not to “go over the falls” and turn a lapse or slip into a full-blown relapse event. Using your skills, you can turn a lapse into a prolapse, that is, an avenue of growth and development. It is important not to go into shame or self-judgment when you have a lapse, but to allow yourself the reality that there is more growth and development needed in gaining back control of your life.
One of the major issues in having a lapse will be a retentive memory deficit for recent events. There may be significant sleep disturbance related to low serotonin levels and there will be difficulty managing feelings and emotions. Problems with impaired, abstract thinking caused by brain damage due to chemical use may also be present and therefore, simple problem solving may prove difficult.
Consequently, managing stress becomes a problem for many reasons. For some, coping skills were never learned. This is especially true for certain individuals—the younger an individual began to use chemicals and the longer a person has been using will be important factors. Additionally, the main stress relievers—drugs and alcohol—have now been eliminated. So, many chemically dependent people in early recovery simply lack the necessary skills to handle the tasks before them.
In managing the stress of early recovery, it can be very helpful to talk about it. Talk with a loved one, a good friend, a pastor or counselor, someone you trust and respect, who may have experience, who is supportive of your recovery and willing to assist you in gaining insight and finding new solutions to problems previously dealt with by drinking or using. Such support is readily available through recovery organizations such as AA and NA.
Recommendations for Members of AA
1. Go to meetings: Attend 90 meetings in 90 days to be in regular contact with other recovering people—a new social group from whom to draw hope and with whom to talk and get suggestions for recovery.
2. Obtain or contact your sponsor: Reach out to another recovering person, one who has a longer period of recovery (preferably two or more years) with more knowledge of the process and therefore more able to help guide, teach and mentor the chemically dependent person through recovery.
3. Slogans: Sayings such as “Easy Does It,” “Just for Today,” “Progress Not Perfection,” “Turn It Over,” “HALT (Don’t Get Too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired),” “First Things First,” and “Keep It Simple” help put things in perspective and, for those with drinking problems, help handle difficult situations.
4. Work the steps: Do this to help keep focused on recovery. It brings discipline and clarity, prevents complacency, and serves as a reminder of ongoing issues to be addressed while acknowledging progress made.
If You Do Lapse or Relapse:
1. Look at the event:
a. What happened? What was the trigger?
b. When and where did it happen?
c. What was the outcome? What were the negative consequences?
2. Deal with the aftermath and face any consequences. Be willing to experience rather than avoid painful or uncomfortable feelings. This would be the time to reach out for support or attend a meeting.
3. Do a cost-benefit analysis between lapsing and using vs. abstinence.
4. Recognize the many positive rewards of abstinence. Recommit to your sobriety and your program of recovery.
5. Have a plan for clearly identifying triggers and put in place strategies for coping with them when they occur in the future.
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