We so often hear about icons—CEOs, musicians, artists, politicians, etc. — who have given in to temptations; some have had setbacks so big that it has cost them their entire career. But, setbacks do not necessarily have to be a death sentence; nor do they have to be an excuse for not reaching our goals and dreams.
Setbacks can be powerful catalysts for major comebacks. They can, for example, put you in a position where you have a clearer perspective on life, and even bigger drive to overcome your obstacles.
A setback is an event that delays your progress or reverses some of the progress you have made. In the context of addictive disorders and recovery, we also call this a relapse.
When you have experienced a setback or a relapse, it is important that you don’t downplay or ignore what has happened. Instead, take accountability, and try to make sense of the situation.
A wise somebody once said, "...you cannot conquer what you cannot confront." How true that is! Denial will hamper any progress that can come from putting things into their proper perspective.
Assess the Situation
Once we have studied our enemy (addiction) and understand it, then we can be on the lookout for the people, places, or things that can put us back into the hole that we are trying to climb out of in the first place.
The best tool you could possibly have for avoiding a relapse is a realistic action plan that will ensure that you do not find yourself in places or situations that intensify your temptation to engage in self-destructive behaviors.
When a setback or relapse has occurred, it is very critical that you begin to ask these very important questions:
- What caused the relapse?
- Can the relapse be traced to old, self-destructive behavioral patterns you slipped back into?
- Were there any other factors that led to the relapse?
Once you have analyzed the situation and have come up with a possible explanation, strategize and devise a sustainable, preventive plan for the future so that the unwanted behaviors will not be repeated again.
For example, if you relapsed by drinking alcohol during a night out with friends, you might need to consider no longer going to night clubs, even if your intention is only to dance and drink sodas.
Sharpen Your Relapse Prevention Tools
Here at The Meadows, we are very committed to equipping each patient against setbacks. We make sure everyone leaves our programs with a set of relapse prevention tools so that when temptations arise, they can hold their ground and resist them.
If a relapse does happen, remember that there is always a second chance: analyze the situation, put it into its proper perspective, and create an action plan to prevent it from happening again in the future.
And, if you need a little extra support getting through the next stage of your recovery, you can always call us. We have an intensive outpatient program and series of outstanding workshops that help keep you on track. Call 800-244-4949 or send us an email.