Keeping Your Head Held High as You Recover from a Relapse

For those attempting to leave a substance abuse problem behind them, the risk of relapse is a very real threat. Nevertheless, it is not something that you can ever really prepare for, because almost everyone who goes into rehab does so with a high level of determination and an absolute conviction that they can and will beat their addiction. So when you start out full of hope and enthusiasm, only to end up back in that terrible pit of despair that you have come to know so well, it can deal a devastating blow to both your self-esteem and your sense of purpose.

But if you really think about it a little more, you should realize that a relapse is nothing to feel ashamed about. Substance abuse is a determined foe, and if you were to take a survey of those who have successfully beaten their addictions, what you would discover is that most of these people actually suffered one or more relapses before finally putting their drug and alcohol problems behind them. In fact, if you have had a relapse and it has got you feeling so low that you don’t even want to leave the house, it could be an excellent idea to go online and start searching for stories about those who have overcome substance abuse problems.

There are plenty of these stories out there now, and the reason why so many people are willing to share their personal testimonies of tragedy and triumph is because they want to help others who are experiencing the same problems with addiction that they once experienced – people just like you, in other words. These people are your peers, and when you discover that they understand just what you are going through and are not judging you because of your failures, it should make you think twice about judging yourself so harshly. And this, of course, is what all of your feelings of shame are really about, they come from your own negative self-judgment and condemnation and actually have very little to do with what others may or may not be thinking about you.

Another thing you can do to help yourself gain more perspective is to ask yourself this question – if you are eventually successful in vanquishing your addiction, how are you going to feel and react toward others who are struggling with the very same issues that you once did? Will you look upon them with disapproval? Will you see them as weak where you were strong? When you encounter them face-to-face, will you reject them or view them as objects worthy only of disdain?

Of course these are only rhetorical questions, because this is not the way you are going to react at all. Instead, you will treat others fighting the demons of alcohol and drugs with compassion and understanding, and if there is anything at all you can do to assist them, the chances are that you will offer them the support they are seeking gladly and unconditionally.

So knowing that this is how it will be, you should now ask yourself this question – if you can be so accepting and understanding of others battling such an intractable opponent, why should you be any less accepting and understanding toward yourself? If your advice to others would be to keep holding their heads high even after a relapse, and to not become discouraged or give up in the face of disappointment or difficulty, then what reason could you possibly have for not telling yourself the exact same things?

Choose Your Life, Don’t Let it Choose You

Here is a very important truth – when you are trying to defeat a drug or alcohol problem, it is absolutely essential that you hold onto your hope and positive attitude no matter how bad things get. So while feelings of shame and discouragement following a relapse are certainly understandable, it is vital to get past those feelings quickly because they are destructive and they are not justified. You relapsed because you are a human being and you are not perfect, which puts you in the very same category as the other seven billion or so souls who live alongside you on this planet.

So when you really think about it, what is there to hang your head about? The only thing you would ever have to feel bad about is if you just gave up and allowed your relapse to become permanent. In the end all that matters is the choices you make, and if you are determined to make better ones in the future that is all that anyone can ask of you, and it is all you can ask of yourself.