6 Things to Do After You've Royally Messed Up By Audrey Beim

Rehabilitation and long-term sobriety is not an easy journey. In fact, it is likely one of the most difficult undertakings you will ever experience. And along the way, there are likely to be missteps and mistakes, some more serious than others. These bumps in the road might feel more like boulders and insurmountable obstacles. They may even jeopardize your recovery, your relationships and the ability to lead a sober lifestyle. But you can get back on the path to healthy living, even after you slip-up. When you’ve had a relapse or made a serious blunder in your recovery, here are six things you can do to get back on the path to living a healthy life. 1. Take Immediate Action It is imperative that after a major stumble or relapse, that you take action immediately. Waiting will just compound the problem and perhaps make it worse. It is also a mistake to think to yourself that there is nothing you can do about the mistake. The truth is that only you can take the steps to resume your recovery. Take a moment to recognize that you slipped up and double your efforts to overcome and learn from your errors. What’s most important is your desire and drive to move past your mistake and move forward with your recovery. 2. Move Forward After a relapse, feelings of guilt, shame and resentment can become so intense they’re almost unbearable. Even though it is normal to feel guilty that you weren’t able to keep up with your recovery, and to have shame that you’ve let others (and yourself) down, you need to move past it. Find the tools to withhold judgment of yourself for your actions. Acknowledge the feelings, but find a way to let them go. Outside counseling may help. Understand that you deserve the right to being clean and sober and move toward living a happy and productive life once again. 3. Focus on the Future If you’ve made a serious error in your rehabilitation, it’s easy to be discouraged. It is essential to stay focused and committed to your recovery and make it your sole priority. It is also extremely important to recall the strides you have already made and to recognize your past achievements. Reward yourself for achieving short-term goals such as getting through one day or one week of sobriety. Give yourself credit for getting to a meeting when you need support. Acknowledge your successes. Let your achievements give you the motivation to accomplish your next goal. 4. Revisit Your Support System A common reason why addicts relapse is that they don’t have an adequate support system in place. Without a support system, every individual trying to recover is at greater risk of falling back into harmful habits. Seek out a fellow self-help group member, a sponsor, family, or friend. These types of individuals can provide the self-confidence to move forward that may be lacking after messing up. When you have a solid support system, you can share your experience of messing up openly and honestly. Make a list of the people who can help you navigate your way through the minefield of obstacles that are a threat to your sobriety and use it often. No one can do it alone. 5. Prioritize Your Health First The first year of recovery is the toughest to get through. It takes a long time for your body and your mind to rid itself of the effects of drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behavior. You may have failed to stay sober because your body was suffering from some level of cognitive impairment, memory loss, confusion, or emotional distress from drugs and alcohol. Getting your body and mind back on track takes hard work and time. After a relapse, you need to build up your physical and mental strength through proper nutrition, adequate sleep, exercise, counseling, and attendance at 12 step or self-help group meetings. Admit your weaknesses and strive to get strong. 6. Make a NEW Plan Taking a step back doesn’t mean your drug or alcohol abuse treatment plan has failed. It simply means you need to revise your plan. View a relapse to be a natural stage of recovery and don’t let it keep you down. Work with an addiction professional or sponsor to analyze why your relapse has occurred and adjust your treatment plan to address your specific triggers. The key is to learn from the experience as to what specific activities, sights, sounds, or people, places or things led to the screw-up. Then, develop new plans for the major triggers and practice using the fresh responses so they become a natural and productive way of responding to temptation. A Final Thought No matter how severe you may have messed up, it doesn’t spell the end of the world. Even if you’ve had a few relapses, it doesn’t mean that you are beyond help.